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Friday, July 22, 2011

Jewel within the City Limits


A Jewel within the City Limits
I was reading an issue of “Outside” magazine a few months back and they were listing all the best parks for wildlife and outdoor activities within the limits of the city in which they reside.  Much to my pleasure, Indianapolis was on the list with Eagle Creek as its representative.  The article went on to mention all the amenities that Eagle Creek offered to its aficionados.  I thought to myself, “Self you need to check this out”.  Well it took me up until just a couple weeks ago to get around to taking the trip all the way across town for a visit (only 20 minutes).

You remember the movie “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure” where Pee Wee is picked up by a burly truck driving woman by the name of Large-Marge?  That’s the vision that welcomed me at the front gate of my exciting excursion into Eagle Creek except my version lacked any kind of personality.  No worries, I didn’t come to chat with a gate-keeper, I came to experience the park.


My first order of business was to figure out where I was going to embark on my afternoon adventure.  I brought my mountain bike to transport me through the park and keep me closer to nature so-to-speak.  Driving around in a vehicle, even if it is a Jeep just didn’t seem to cut the mustard.  By looking at the map given to me by “Large Marge” at the entrance; I figured I’d park the Jeep in middle-ground and make a large loop around the park.

The very first thing I happened upon was a small lake nestled in the middle of a meadow.  I heard children screeching with laughter and upon further inspection I noticed they were playing tag.  Remember tag?  I recall many a day when my fellow mates and I would play this fantastic rite of passage game honing our NFL running back skills. 

I noticed a small gaggle of geese and swans in a bit of a stare-off further down the meadow directly adjacent to the lake.  I fantasized they were “West Side Story” rivals like the Jets from New York and the Sharks from Puerto Rico….they would circle each other as if they were dancing in a Broadway play – mesmerizing stuff.  Then I got a little too close and the swans began hissing which made me a little nervous.  The geese, however, dispatched with the mamby pamby hissing and immediately began charging which hastened my departure.

My next discovery was an outdoor bird sanctuary and small collection of buildings nestled high on the bluffs overlooking a large reservoir.  I sat on a nearby bench next to a pond watching finches, sparrows, robins, cardinals and blue jays.  Again, I fantasized about all these species being one big family going about their business of providing for one another gathering stuffing for nests and worms to feed the young.  On that day all species seemed to get along just for me to watch in their entire splendor.  It was almost as if they were putting on a show being in such close proximity to one another.  Then all of a sudden I heard some high pitched cackling and a blue jay absconded with an egg from another nest, so much for harmony eh?

Pushing on, I was dying to get down to the beach and marina to check that out for future activities like fishing, kayaking, swimming and people watching – if you know what I mean?  The first thing that caught my eye was an enormous kite being flown by a guy that could be my doppelganger.  I thought I was looking into a mirror except he’d been at this kite game much longer than I.  He was able to swoop the kite inches from the ground harassing his dog to no end.  He had a border collie and they have boundless energy which served well in this instance as Mark 2.0 would bomb his dog time and time again to the delight of Fido as this canine ran and ran after that darn kite.  It was pretty cool to watch until the collie jumped up and caught the kite tearing it to shreds giving my twin pause for his eagerness to “entertain” his pet.  I almost pee’d my pants laughing at his gaffe.


On my way up the hill from the beach and marina, I noticed a red-tailed hawk circling above.  This creature is my sister Cristal’s favorite bird of prey.  She has pictures and books of them and dreams of flying along-side them as they dive for their meal.  Speaking of prey, several smaller birds weren’t too happy with such a large presence dominating the sky above their home.  I’m sure you’ve seen them…swallows or sparrows shooing away the hawk in vain only to see this predator return to feast on one of their young?

Not today, I’ve always wondered why the predator bird doesn’t swat down or turn on its pestering cousin only to see with startled eyes that very thing occur.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  Not only did Mr. hawk seemingly put on the brakes in mid air to catch one of the birds in its talons but took advantage of a mortal mistake by the other coming too close to the sharp beak of the red-tailed death machine and clamped down on the second smaller bird and flew away with lunch AND dinner.  Birds of a feather are captured together?

If all this can happen to me in half a day of observation…imagine what you could witness on numerous visits to a truly great park within the city limits of Indianapolis, IN. 

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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