Last week,  the John Muir Exhibit Opened at Crossroads. Four of the exquisite panels now are displayed in the Lower Level of the Collins Learning Center and the other four are in the Vignes School in the Door County Historical Society’s Heritage Village at Big Creek. The exhibit is curated by Michael Edmonds, Director of Programs and Outreach at the Wisconsin Historical Society. While  he was setting up the display panels, I got to chat with him about important topics–glaciers and the importance of exposing children to nature, and I also asked him how he did his research. It turns out the  Wisconsin State Historical Society had a wealth of primary sources.
“We own a rich collection of Muir’s letters, drawings, and artifacts,” Edmonds said, “and thought that the centennial of the National Park Service would be a perfect time to share them.”
Among the Muir items at the Society are more than 100 original letters to his old friends in Wisconsin, his drawings of the inventions he made as young man, and some of the inventions themselves. The Society also owns some tools he used and a walking stick he carried. The traveling exhibit contains facsimiles and photographs of some of these objects,
“John Muir was one of Wisconsin’s many gifts to the nation,” Edmonds says. “The ideas he formed here as a young man, like his spiritual view of nature, for example, or the scientific training he got at UW, stayed with him the rest of his life and sparked his later activism.
“ There’s a pretty direct line from Muir’s childhood in Wisconsin to the Sierra Club and the National Parks, and then down the generations through Aldo Leopold to Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day, and the environmentalism of our own day.”
 At 2:00,.  Sunday, Sept. 11, the closing day of the exhibit,  Edmonds will present the lecture, “John Muir Illustrated”   about Muir’s life, ideas, and legacy . The free program, followed by a reception provided by the Friends of Crossroads, will be held in the in the Lecture Hall of the Collins Learning Center.
In The Story of My Boyhood and Youth,  John  Muir described the changing seasons . He wrote: “With autumn came a glorious abundance and variety of asters, those beautiful plant stars, together with goldenrods, sunflowers, daisies and liatris.” He could have been talking about Crossroads.   
The brightly colored petals and the lovely odors help attract insect pollinators to our fall flowers. Pollinating insects visit plants to feed on  nectar, but in the process of gathering food, they accidentally carry the pollen from blossom to blossom. Fall flowers have reached their peak at Crossroads at Big Creek. The upland areas, meadows, and fields are gloriously dappled with yellow, purple and white blossoms.
 On Friday, September 9,  we will offer a lecture called “Muir’s Flowers”  It will describe the fall flowers which were mentioned in Muir’s book which also grow at Crossroads.  Following the the lecture, we will offer a quick tutorial on identifying goldenrod using computers.
Then at 3:30 Friday, Crossroads will offer a fall flower hike and participants will visit the places where fall flower flourish.   Like spring wildflowers, most autumn blossoms tend to be shades of yellow, purple or white (which more than likely is ultraviolet…a color not visible to humans) because those are the colors that attract bees. Red flowers tend to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Brown and green flowers?  Some flowers are so inconspicuous that we rarely notice them. These flowers give off amazing quantities of pollen which floats around in the air. Presumably, a few grains land on the appropriate flowers and the rest aggravates our allergies. For years, the  goldenrods have gotten a bad rap for causing hay fever. Actually, these yellow flowers are pollinated by insects. Blame ragweed for the seasonal allergies.

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