Week of October 10 – October 16, 2021
by Morgan Ingraham, Environmental Educator
I’d like you to meet Lee. That’s the name I’ve chosen for the tree that grows outside my window. I’ve seen Lee bend through summer rain, glitter in autumn sunlight, and soon I will see how he responds to winter snow. His green leaves are still clinging to summer, but some are beginning to turn yellow-gold.
He has alternate, compound, small green leaves and there are catkins (male flower clusters) still hanging on the tips of his branches. His bark is dark brown with closely knit, deep furrows. He bends like he is dancing, bolstering garlands with strong wooden arms.
He and the other trees of the neighborhood host squirrels, skunks, raccoons, opossums, and birds. I hear cardinals singing, I see squirrels running across the telephone wires, and once I witnessed a silent, awkward skunk tottering across the road.
Later on, I found out his scientific name is Juglans nigra, and his scientific common name is Black Walnut. He is a tree with only male flowers (monoecious) that is planted ornamentally. However interesting this information is, he will remain special to me as dancing Lee.
Look outside your window and you’ll find there are living beings to meet: plants growing between the sidewalk, lichens on stairs, insects and spiders by the mailbox, squirrels in a tree. Become familiar with these critters as subjects in themselves, make observations about them, maybe even give them a name…and become their neighbor.