Friday, April 28, 2017

Enjoying a Mix of Nature and Culture at Herrontown Woods

Update: Henry Horn, the one-of-a-kind professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton University, died March 14, 2019. I looked back and found this account of a walk he joined us on at Herrontown Woods two years ago.

Sunday's nature walk mixed the serene beneficence of the awakening forest with the charged drama of the county's determination to tear down Veblen House, even after the Friends of Herrontown Woods submitted a detailed proposal to begin repairing the house and other buildings donated by the Veblens long ago for public use. We had a surprise special guest for the walk, retired professor Henry Horn, who spoke about the preserve's geology and helped with identification of flora and fauna. We had about 25 on the walk, with only a few days notice, and lots of curiosity about all the plants and creatures encountered.

We saw the various wildflowers shown in the virtual walk at, and a Sigmoria millipede, which usually smells strongly like black cherry, but did not. That's a wineberry stem in the background.

Professor Horn suggested that the millipede may only emit the odor when it feels threatened. I asked if there were any nature haters willing to come forward and hold the millipede in a threatening manner, but none volunteered.

Afterwards, we gathered near the Veblen House to have cider, chips and cookies, with many discussions about the battle to save the house. Lots of good ideas and leads were offered.

Thanks to all who came, and particular thanks to professor Henry Horn for sharing his wealth of knowledge.