Gazette Managing Editor Liz Sheaffer and her sometimes faithful companion, Abby, are participating in the Medina County Park District’s Trekking Through Autumn, a self-guided hiking program.
The crunch of footsteps on the crushed limestone path are counterpoint to nature’s symphony.
The trail around the wetland restoration project at Chippewa Inlet Trail North is alive with music — the measured mating song of male cicadas, the whoosh of wings as swallows take flight from the grasses as we pass by, the honk of Canada geese and countless insects adding their unique voices and melodies.
The day we visit, we are joined on our hike by families and individuals participating in the 5K Walk/Run for Recovery, which is sponsored by Running 2 Be Well of Medina and raised funds for nonprofit Fighting for Alyssa, which works to prevent and treat substance abuse and addiction.
In the heart of Buckeye Woods Park, which the trail is part of, a kite fest is underway. Families are enjoying a sunny, September day together, but the event’s focus, like the run/walk, is for a more serious cause: drug and alcohol addiction and recovery.
There are several trails in Buckeye Woods Park, but this 1.5-mile loop around the wetland is the one featured this year on the Medina County Park District’s Trekking Through Autumn program.
For a longer hike, visitors can cover the entire Chippewa Inlet Trail (3.95 miles from start to finish) that runs through the park, across state Route 162 to Chippewa Road in Lafayette Township. There also are trails that loop around the 3-acre pond where Gazette sports writer Rick Noland has spent many hours fishing, and another through the undeveloped Schleman Nature Preserve named for the family who donated the land to the park district. The park itself is named after a grove of buckeye trees along the stream in Schleman.
A dragonfly buzzes us, seemingly urging us to follow.
On the trail ahead of us, a couple from Cuyahoga County stops to take a photo.
“Oh, this is a wonderful place for birders,” the wife says. “We love it here.”
She also loves golden retrievers and Abby laps up the attention.
A sign to our right, sponsored by Medina Evening Rotary, explains the importance of wetlands and what wildlife may call them home: Wetlands can reduce major flooding by retaining and absorbing rainwater; act as nature’s water filters and purifiers; and provide a habit for a host of wildlife and plants including cattails, blue vervain and swamp milkweed, and painted turtles, wood ducks, green frogs and blue heron.
As we walk, I spot a blue heron, and later woods ducks, Canada geese and a white egret.
There’s a deck overlooking the wetland constructed with the help of park district volunteers using materials provided by Stop ’n Go of Medina Inc. The view is expansive and allows visitors a shaded respite to view a variety of waterfowl.
I can see the egret from the deck, but it is too far away to capture a photo. So, we finish our hike and I take Abby home (she is hot) and return with a better camera lens. But the egret isn’t near the deck anymore, so I begin the loop around the wetland again when … a flash of yellow zips by.
I stop. I wait. The pace of nature’s secret is patience, after all.
I slowly raise my camera and scan the brush. My patience is rewarded when I capture a male and female goldfinch.
Feeling lucky, I resume my hike, looking for the egret.
Halfway around the wetland, I see it through the reeds. Statuesque still. Waiting for me?
Contact Managing Editor Liz Sheaffer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (330) 721-4060.