“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
This is the last stanza of a well-known poem by Robert Frost and it has become a symbol to a lot of people about choosing the “other” option. I have found this doesn’t have to be daring or profound but sometimes just fun.
When you visit the Arboretum, you have an array of choices of what to do; none of them wrong! May I suggest something you may not have tried before?
Come out with your hiking shoes on, an old blanket, and a picnic lunch. Take the road less traveled and sit in the shade, listen to the birds sing and soak up the serenity of a wooded glade.
The ideal place for this is the Hess Road Forest. Take the Cedar Loop Trail from the top of Tower Hill past Tim’s Garden and down through the trees to where the path begins to wind up to the Magnolia Grove. Instead of continuing around the loop, however, cross the creek on the gravel bridge and find the grass path in front of you and check out the Prairie on both sides. You have now found the road less traveled.
Pause a moment and let your imagination have free reign; This is what Iowa looked like in the mid-1800’s, tall grass prairie for as far as the eye could see. Sadly Iowa’s tall grass prairies are vanishing from our landscape. In an effort to preserve our little piece of this heritage we partnered with a Hawkeye Community College class in 2012 to plant this two-acre plot of ground. A bad drought that year slowed the progress of the project, but we have hopes that it is coming around. Please don’t go into the grass as there are likely some thistles in there and perhaps some other noxious weeds. But do take the time to stand in the path and really look around, you may see some cute little field mice or other small critters enjoying this great natural habitat. Best of all try to imagine yourself as a pioneer settler in Iowa. Block out all external sights and concentrate on the scene in front of you.
Many have not ventured into this space and not discovered that there is also a charming winding creek. Unfortunately, in the summer it can be hard to see due to the high grass. take a few minutes to explore if you try you can see the water way as it winds around the edge of the path. Lots of birds to see and if at the right time, some wild flowers as well.
On the other side of the prairie, you will find several tranquil groves of trees for your picnic. Relax and enjoy being outside or if you are so inclined there is ample space between groups of trees just to run around. On the way back, see if you can find the hide-out in the Spindle Tree Grove.