The following is a quote by Thomas Merton, appearing in "Thomas Merton: Essential writings," edited by Christine M. Bochen.

The pale flowers of the dogwood outside this window are saints. The little yellow flowers that nobody notices on the edge of that road are saints looking up into the face of God.

This leaf has its own texture and its own pattern of veins and its own holy shape, and the bass and trout hiding in the deep pools of the river are canonized by their beauty and their strength.

All permits are in place and the weather is looking favorable for us to conduct a prescribed burn in the Bro. Don Geiger Prairie on FRIDAY March 4. Expect trails to the prairie to be closed in the morning.

Learn to conserve water and energy, and provide habitat with native plantings that enhance local ecology and lower maintenance. A free three-session series.

By Sr. Leanne Jablonski, FMI, Ph.D., MEEC director

With sad but grateful hearts we mourn MEEC’s visionary founder and longest-serving volunteer, Marianist Brother Donald R. Geiger SM, Ph.D.
* Funeral arrangements updated.

Giving Thanks, a message from the director

During this time of COVID-19 we find ourselves exiled from our normal life rhythms and supports, and our feelings of stress, anxiety and fear are inevitably heightened. We are grieving real losses and anticipating others, and suffering with the illnesses of loved ones and our inability to companion the dying. The struggle of springtime rains, with their hope of new greenery and lush flowers, to overcome the chilly winds of winter mirrors our internal struggle to maintain hope in our anxiety.

Dutchmans breeches

After a slow start, spring ephemeral season is moving very quickly now. Bluebells are finally beginning to bloom, and Dutchman's breeches are just about at their peak along with cutleaf toothwort, spring beauties, and violets. The last of the twinleaf blooms are fading, and the pipe-shaped seed pods are swelling. 

The warm weather and rain have spurred a rapid progression in the spring wildflowers at MSJ. In just the past few days marsh marigold, bloodroot, spring beauty, false rue anemone and dutchman's breeches have started blooming. At peak bloom the marsh marigold will blanket the woodland fen in gold.

Last week we shared an image of honeysuckle starting to leaf out in the Marianist Nature Preserve, and compared it to our native trees and shrubs whose buds had not yet started to break. That doesn't mean our native woody species are dormant, however. Many of them are in bloom right now, but you may not know it unless you suffer from allergies.

The closure of public masses and other worship services has been for many of us one of the most painful consequences and deepest sacrifices of the C0ronavirus pandemic. During times of fear, tragedy and hardship our impulse is to turn to each other and the rituals that mark both the basic rhythms and the transitions of our lives.

Since we're not leading in-person hikes of the Marianist Nature Preserve this spring given the spread of COVID-19, we'll try to make more frequent posts here as the season progresses with observations from our staff.

As interest in native plants has grown, so has our nursery. Central to those efforts the past two years has been Peter Evans, a Marianist PULSE (Partners for Urban Leadership, Service, and Education) volunteer. 

Controlled burning is one of the most effective strategies for keeping a prairie a prairie. Without the disruption fire provides, woody species would overtake the grasses and eventually a woods would stand where a prairie once grew. Fire also removes thatch, returning those nutrients to the soil, and controls early-season weeds. We conduct our burns in mid-March through early April, before the prairie species have broken dormancy, and when wind and humidity values are within a fairly narrow range.

Fall color is just at its peak at Mount St. John. The subtler sensory clues of change – the softening light, the disappearing stillness, the gradual diminuendo of the nightly insect symphony until only the final cadences register on attentive ears, are overwhelmed by bursts of color. Change, ever constant, suddenly seeks and finds our attention. Fall is not, of course, an ending; nor is it a beginning.