La Vista Ecological Learning Center

4300 Levis Lane

Godfrey, IL 62035

© 2006 − 2019


A Ministry of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate

March 3, 2020

Some say the season of spring begins with sound, and I surely have found this to be true.  For fifteen springs I have driven down Levis Lane on my way to La Vista, and each year I am charmed by the bell-like sounds of spring peepers emanating from a small pond behind Westminster Presbyterian Church. A little research confirmed my experience since they are known to be among the first frogs to call...

February 4, 2020

Everywhere I look this month I see that beautiful branching pattern.  Out my window I observe the oak tree with its trunk, boughs, branches, and twigs; the pine with its needle clusters; the spruce and its bunchy branching. On the ground it is evident in the veins in fallen leaves, in the roots reaching out across the land, and I know it is underneath the soil in root tips and fungi busy decomposi...

January 9, 2020

I recently moved residences, and now during my morning spiritual practice I find myself looking out at an old red oak tree adjacent to a bird sanctuary.  The predominant colors are gray, brown, and snowy white - except for the patterned shades of green lichen I spotted growing up the oak’s trunk. As I spent time with them, the lichen became beautiful to me in the wintry bleakness.  Soon they captu...

December 9, 2019

One year I chose to make my annual retreat during December, and someone commented that this was a poor choice as I would be missing the seasonal parties.  What I found however, was that I missed nothing!  All I had to do was look out a window or take a walk to celebrate December’s natural parties.

I observed downy, hairy, pileated, and red-bellied woodpeckers wildly flinging suet from the bird...

November 1, 2019

“The wildness of the Mystery of God cannot be contained.”  This quote from John Philip Newell’s The Book of Creation strongly captured my imagination one beautiful autumn morning; so, carrying the words in my heart, I headed out to Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary to encounter wildness and Mystery.

As I walked the trail I immediately found myself in the Presence. A lively frog jumped out of my w...

October 1, 2019

Here in the Midwest, October marks the time when timber rattlesnakes enter hibernation until the weather warms. I usually include a relevant photo with this post, so why isn’t there a timber rattlesnake in this picture of the Oblates Woods Nature Preserve? After all, it is a perfect habitat for rattlesnakes and dens – rocky outcroppings and forested bluffs - but in the many years of pulling honeys...

September 6, 2019

For many birds September’s seasonal changes mean work, especially migrators who commit to fattening up for flights of thousands of miles!  This is serious business.  They need an optimum amount of energy to make their journeys.  Ospreys, shorebirds, Caspian terns, blue-winged teal, common nighthawks and many more participate in the wonderful phenomenon of fall migration, so evident at La Vista hig...

August 1, 2019

                                                 Photo:  Lothar Bodingbauer, Unsplash

Nature’s fashion turns to berries in August.  Sumac fruits ripen to crimson.  Wild black cherries ripen, starting out red before turning black-purple. Grey dogwoods’ bluish-white berries mel...

July 1, 2019

A Midwest July brings us a variety of lovely wildflowers with great names: black-eyed Susan, butterfly milkweed, compass plant, prairie blazing star, royal catchfly, mountain mint, green milkweed, swamp milkweed, wild bergamot, and yarrow to name a few.  This means that bees, the most amazing insects of all, are having a heyday.

Among pollinators the bee has to take the prize for its ability t...

June 17, 2019

June is the month when many young animals leave their “homes” and move out into the broader Earth community.  Fledgling birds leave their nests, American toad tadpoles turn into toadlets and leave their water home; catfish young leave their nests, and bobcat kittens are born and head out on their own. It’s an exciting time with all this life burgeoning in June.  Can you feel this energy of life as...

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