If you’ve been following Cleveland Metroparks blogs, you know that we have one dedicated to history (Roots Revealed) and this one is dedicated to natural history, or nature. Today I’m going to skate the line between the two.
I work at Look About Lodge. Most people who walk into this building are immediately awed by the massive chestnut log beams that make up the walls, stairs and support of the building, myself included. People want to touch the wood, sit in the chairs and breathe in the smells. When people say to me, “You are so lucky to work in this place”, I reply, “I know that every day”. Working here makes a part of my job easy. Connecting people to the natural world in a place that was built to do that very thing, and has been succeeding at it for 75 years, gives me an advantage.
I’ve worked at Look About Lodge for about one fifth of the time it has existed. That doesn’t seem like much to me. The history here is deep and rich. I think about the chestnut trees that make up so much of the building. They stood tall and strong some miles from here for how many decades before they succumbed to the blight and were taken as timber in the 1930s. I think about the Cleveland Natural Science Club, a club started by science teachers who sought a connection to the natural world. I think about how we still honor the original purpose of these walls by seeking to make connections with the natural world. I think about the furniture. Much of it was built by Bedford high school wood shop class 75 years ago. It’s strong and beautiful and precious. I love to touch the wood railings that go up the stairs. They are smooth and worn from many hands. The steps are not perfectly even. After 16 years of climbing them, my feet know the imperfections of their rise better than the stairs in my own home. I love that if you look in the right places you can still see the pencil marks on the wood from the Works Progress Administration builders.
I want to share with you the things that are special about this place. I have spent most days for the last 16 years discovering these special things and I’m not done! Each time someone comes here and builds a connection with the natural world I think the building soaks up some of that experience as its own. There is no physical evidence of the people who fell in love with birds for the first time when they were here. There are no marks left behind from the families who have asked me to take a photo of them while stopping in on a Sunday hike. There is no record of children who came here on a field trip and declared, “Best-Day-Ever!”
Memories need to be kept. I and the people I work with are so honored to keep them. And, we are willing to share them with whomever might ask.
It’s such a valuable thing to have so many special places in Cleveland Metroparks with deep and rich histories. It’s such an honor to be a part of the people who are charged with building new memories and keeping past memories of these places. Find someone who works at Cleveland Metroparks and ask us about our favorite places and memories. Take time to think about where you are and how you can build your own connections and memories here. Remember that each of these places create fresh history with every moment. You should be a part of that. It is an honor...