Salt Creek Greenway Association

The Salt Creek Greenway

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Cricket Creek Trail Story by Debbie Dolecki - continued

After the June flood the forest is energized with a new burst of green. The rain has replenished the woods. The heavy rainwater from Villa Avenue that empties into the creek is now the focal point of Blue Herons and Egrets. They sit patiently and statuesque together, watching the water flow from the pipe into the creek. I wonder, what is it they are looking for?

"Hello John. How are you doing Lexi girl?" Traveling the trail at approximately the same time each day, I find I am not the only one to have discovered the trail and made it a part of their daily routine. John and his dog Lexi travel farther than I to get to the trail. No mind says John, good exercise is what keeps his Lexi in such good shape. They both seem to enjoy the beauty as much as I. Just as I see John and Lexi most days, I also see the same fisherpersons at "their spots" at the ponds in early evenings. Most are in lawn chairs, some standing and hidden amongst the marsh grass, all with rod and bucket. Some spread picnic blankets, a very cheerful and peaceful setting. During my summer evening visits I continue to see birds circling the ponds and then nose dive into the water at what appears to be break-neck speed. But no worries, a few seconds and they are up from under the water and taking flight again to circle and attempt the manuever once again. A fascinating, as well as alarming behavior when you see it for the first time.

One morning, a jogger who I have seen and greeted each morning, stops me and asks if I would like to see a beaver. The bridge at the pond near Fullerton Ave. is where he directs me. Beneath our feet, in smooth frenzy below, is indeed a very large beaver with branch in tow. Along the bank and where the concrete bridge ends is where he or she has decided that this shall be home. The jogger and I agree that it is a good spot as we too can watch daily and get a glimpse into a beaver's life.

The sound above me cannot be mistaken. I look up to confirm what I already knew, fall is coming. The Sandhill cranes are on the move. The hardwood trees on the path just as I approach Lake Street have been hinting at autumn's arrival for the past few weeks. Greens have started to turn towards the warm colors of amber, gold and red. As the days grow shorter, my neighbor and riding partner Sandy and I keep upping the time that we leave to head out for our after dinner/sunset rides. We also find that light jackets need to accompany us.

Like other nature patrons we recognize on our night rides, we also look for the mother deer and her baby we have watched since spring. The fawn has lost his white spots he proudly fashioned thru summer and has now, like his mother, grown into his fall and winter attire of a thicker and solid brown coat.

The trees have left their leaves behind, just as I have done with my bike. The trail is still there, the fisherpersons are not. The Blue Herons and elegant looking Egrets are nowhere to be found. The first snow of the season is here. Hat, mittens and camera and I head out to see what was once before a green oasis has now been transformed into a white- washed woodlands. I anticipate that winter on the trail will be both long, barren and uneventful. I am wrong. In the snow, at the trailhead, a coyote has spotted me and is holding his ground. Back on a summer's night, a homeowner who lives along the trail in Elmhurst had told me there were many coyotes and that they would howl at the sirens of emergency vehicles on Rt. 83. This was my first glimpse of one. It stood near the Salt Creek Greenway trail sign as if it were part of an advertising campaign for the trail. Amongst the wind whipped snowflakes, he stood, as if posing for my camera. Continuing on my way, there seems to be scuttle up ahead. As I round the curve behind the Addison filtration plant, a flurry of finches dart in and out of a thistle stand. The opposite side of the trail hosts a large area of tall grass intertwined with milkweed whose pods have exploded and dried blossoms of Queen Anne's lace are now gently cupped and seeming to hold their hands full of snow. I am also amazed at all of the animals tracks I am discovering. Back in warmer months, I had wondered about the paths the deer, coyotes, and bunnies traveled thru the fores. The snow does not keep their secrets.

The Salt Creek Greenway Trail's proximity to my home and its ability to take me away from my rush-rush life will be a selling point for our home. But in trying to move away from urban life to a more rural area, do we even need to, now that we have this little path of peace and tranquility just a block away? As my friend and neighbor Sandy and I agree, this is some of our best tax dollars ever spent.
Photos by Debbie Dolecki

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