The Trivium

I had a “gut check” on the way home from The Springs last night. Jason Dare, the real deal when it comes to ecosystem management, met me by coincidence on the trail near the Hillside Springs, and, in the fading light, he helped me see a new approach to “gardening” at The Springs. As I drove home, I questioned whether or not I had made some mistakes, used the wrong poison in the wrong place at the wrong time, or missed golden opportunities to repel nascent invasive species. I faced the challenge of integrating new information that contradicted what I thought I new, and was putting into practice; I was confused!

Fortunately there is a way to dispel confusion — the liberating art of critical thinking known as The Trivium Method. As I reviewed what Jason said I recognized: The Grammar i.e., the knowledge of objects in the real world; The Logic, or process of non-contradictory identification that leads to understanding and answers the question why; and The Rhetoric, manifest in Jason’s wisdom and ability to explain the how to me. Just listen for yourself!

Armed with the trivium, I’m learning the phenology of the varied plant communities, the biology and the proper use of herbicide. I’m encouraged by people like Jason Dare, who is going to give me a list of the weeds he was inventorying for the DNR (and strategies for attacking them), and Ron Kurowski, who is going to give me a survey of native plants, and I hope other knowledgeable nature lovers will contribute as well. It seems like ever since the Native Americans were kicked out of the area in the late 1820s, people have viewed The Springs with and eye to make a buck. Now we are changing that and it is a wonderful opportunity to do something for the shear joy of it. I hope you will consider contributing your time and talents to this effort. Persistence is the key!

Had I known when I arrived yesterday morning what I know now, I would not have sprayed buckthorn seedlings and re-sprouts at the trailhead. Jason explained why October-November is the only time he will spray buckthorn seedlings and how a mix of Garlon 3a and Escort would be the least toxic approach, given the sensitivity of the area. Summer is time to focus on herbaceous weeds and that is what we plan to do from now on. Sound advice from someone with a lot of experience managing ecosystems. The knowledge, understanding and wisdom is sinking in!


Just as I finished spraying, I got a trail update from a veteran birder named Tom, who said the north end of the trail was getting really overgrown. This is buckthorn alley and I confess that I have not walked this stretch of trail since the burn. I got after it with my brush cutter.

I had intended to pile brush in an area 100 yards or so down the main trail, where the first views of the prairie open up, and resumed that objective after sweeping buckthorn alley.

Here is how it looked after a couple hours. In light of my conversation with Jason, I’m rethinking the plan mentioned at the end of this video.

It was cool and breezy all day but the darn mosquitoes came out in force as evening progressed.


Ron mentioned in his last visit that oak wilt was attacking the black oaks and here is example along the river.


A last river view before heading home


See you at The Springs!

6 thoughts on “The Trivium

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