The best part of having four seasons is enjoying that time when one season is pushing the old season slowly out the door.
The long, drawn-out days of an Ohio winter are soon to become a distant memory, and the transition from winter to spring in Harroun Community Park is like nature’s version of the Renaissance.
Alongside the park’s portion of the river trail, tall wild grasses wave in the wind as if greeting each passerby. It appears as though they were placed there to serve as a pretty trimming before the thick of the forest.
“The wild grasses are a stabilizing device for soil,” said Art Landseadel, city forester.
Standing right above the hill used for sledding during the winter, the overlook provides a direct view into the wetlands. The grasses play a part in holding water in the low lying area, preventing erosion. This year the wetlands are empty. But the grasses and trees all play a role in the forest’s life.
“We had a dry winter, but usually there’s water in there,” he said.
He and Deb Raszka, Parks & Forestry office manager, discuss how the twisted branches of the buckthorn bush help hold debris back from polluting Ten Mile Creek.
Further down the path stands the stately buckeye tree whose bare branches stretch toward the blue sky. Although there are no signs of flowering, there is that feeling that everything in the forest is in the state of renewal; on the brink of opening.
And everyone is ready to embrace spring's return.
“I walk this trail when the weather is nice,” Ms. Raszka said, commenting that walking the park is part of her exercise routine. The paved trail is 3,200 feet of smooth pavement, that’s easy on the joints.
The park is dog friendly, with spots to dispose of animal waste. Its paved trail also connects to the Sylvania’s historic downtown. Eventually it will extend beyond Flower Hospital, and the U.S. 23 expressway ramp to Monroe Street.
On this early Spring day, others have taken the opportunity to get out and enjoy the quiet of the park and its sites. The thicket of trees and brush provide a buffer between the bustling streets and the heart of the park. It makes the park a peaceful refuge from the city.
Mr. Landseadel pointed to the river deck, the location of the annual River Ball Race that Ms. Raszka coordinates. Some residents walking across the new bridge, constructed for walkers to arrive to the park from Sylvania’s downtown, took the time to greet Mr. Landseadel and Ms. Raszka.
Jeff Robinson, a Sylvania Township resident, recognizes Mr. Landseadel.
“You’re the guy that has that shelter,” he said, shaking Mr. Landseadel's hand. During the past 20 years, Mr. Landseadel fostered the park's growth with the help of the volunteers of the Sylvania Youth Conservation Corp. A park shelter is named after him.
The two chit-chat about the how the massive loss of trees from the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle has been linked to cardiac and lung disease in certain parts of the country.
“We need to be stewards of nature all the time,” said Mr. Robinson. Indeed, Mr. Landseadel also makes the point of how dependent we are on trees for oxygen and moisture.
The park lost about 1,500 ash trees in its 26 acres.
“We are trying to replace it with other varieties that have wet feet,” he said, referring to the moist soil of the wetlands.
Further down the path, a honeysuckle bush is waiting to bear its sweet-smelling flowers.
“It will sprout cream-colored flowers,” Ms. Raszka said. “It smells delightful.”
Something to come back to see.
Harroun Community Park, 5500 Main St., is open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset. It is the perfect place to revel in spring’s comeback.
Contact Natalie Trusso Cafarello at: 419-206-0356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.