Shaw Nature Reserve

Autumn Colors -  Reflected Tamaracks

Autumn Colors – Reflected Tamaracks

Shaw Nature Reserve is located in Gray Summit, MO and is part of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Located forty miles west of the garden’s main site, Shaw was opened in 1925 when pollution from coal smoke threatened the garden’s collection. Pollution in Saint Louis decreased with waning use of coal, alleviating the need to move the garden to Shaw. The reserve is currently dedicated to the region’s native flora and fauna.

Last Sunday was the last warm and sunny day before this week’s winter weather descended. Anne and I took the opportunity to get out into the country and enjoy such a fine day by communing with nature. The reserve is located on the Meramec River and is about six miles south of the Missouri River. Habitats include prairie, woodlands and wetlands. We tromped through all three.

On the prairie we heard the barking of deer. They certainly could hear us. As we heard them, but I don’t know if they could see us too. We certainly couldn’t see them. We did see lots of birds, mainly Red-headed woodpeckers and Blue jays. At one point I thought that I had seen a Bald eagle, but I can’t be certain.

There was an art fair happening at the other end of Shaw, so we made that our hiking destination. One of the artists showing there was Bryan Haynes. I had seen his illustrative art that depicts scenes from rural Missouri before, when he had a show at the old courthouse in downtown Saint Louis. I got to meet him and speak with him. He called his courthouse show the height of his career, but I’m sure that he will do better.

On the way back, we came upon the Serpentine Wall. This design for a brick wall was attributed to Thomas Jefferson. It is shaped sinuous like a snake, because being only one brick thick, it needs its waviness to give it strength. It had been built to protect a boxwood garden back when there were still other plans for Shaw. It was a very enjoyable outing made even more so with the knowledge of the fast approaching polar vortex.

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