Path Through the Serpentine

Bridgette Guerzon Mills | Path Through the Serpentine, oil, 24×18 inches

I’ve written before how there’s something about tall wildgrass that speak to me. Especially in the fall when they are golden and when the autumn sun lights them up. This scene was inspired by a hike at a park west of Baltimore in Owings Mills, MD that is called Soldier’s Delight. This landscape is the largest remaining serpentine ecosystem in the eastern United States. Serpentine ecosystems are underlain by serpentinite, an oceanic rock which produces shallow soils that have very high levels of magnesium and very low levels of essential nutrients. Despite these harsh growing conditions, many plant and animal species can be seen in the oak savannas and the grasslands. The first time we hiked here I kept thinking how it reminded me so much of the midwest prairies, but with hills!

There are parts along the path where the grass was taller than me. I wonder why this type of landscape speaks to me so much. Maybe something ancestral in my cells. I love the idea too of how the grasslands may seem barren, but they are full of life. And even more so, hardy and resilient. I read that when the European settlers came to this area, there were more than 100,00 acres of the serpentine landscape.  Now, there are 2,000 acres left which are under the stewardship of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The preservation was started in the late 50s and started by private citizens concerned about saving this unique landscape. Just goes to show what can be done when people care enough. Grateful for people who put their concern into action.

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. – Hal Borland

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