Bringing the wilderness to town

Barbara Lawlor, Nederland.  The Caribou Village Shopping Center parking lot in Nederland looked like a party on Saturday afternoon. Large murals were painted on panels leaning on the outside walls of the Wild Bear Nature Center, music streamed from the open doors, large fairies painted small fairy faces, baked goods perfumed the air. It was chilly, damp with wisps of mist hovering over town.

The 17th Annual Enchanted Forest changed its face this year, being held in front and inside of the nature center instead of its usual location at Mud Lake Open Space. Guests used to walk the paths leading away from the visitors’ center, past the dens and lairs and swamps of wildlife creatures who inhabit the local forests.


A sink hole on the Wild Bear property at Mud lake necessitated a change of plans for the permanent nature center and is involved in an exchange for a buildable site for the center. So, change of plans meant a change of venue. Instead of heading into the forest, people strolled over to Chipeta Park where they picked up the creek trail. The area has willow thickets and small beaches, aspens shedding their golden leaves and patches of mud that contain all kinds of wetland residents.


A moose sat on a rock reminiscing about his fascinating life, trying to keep his massive rack of horn from slipping to one side or the other.


Families gathered around the beast which is now prevalent in Ned neighborhoods. He seemed to have a good time chatting with folks. A slimy looking crayfish clicked its pincers and talked about how much he liked the Nederland area habitat. Two raccoons, reeking of mischief behind their signature masks looked as if they would be fun to take home and play with, but they are definitely wild critters, not to be tamed.

Back at the center, the kids had plenty to do, making sage smudges, listening to blue grass music and enjoying the magic show presented by Doc Murdock and his fish. Adults tried the various lotions and balms created by Arwen Ek and bought treats at the sidewalk bake sale.
One never knows what Mother Nature will bring on a September weekend, but most people are prepared for a drizzly, chill day and they don’t pay no mind to the weather.



(Originally published in the September 28, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)

Barbara Lawlor

Barbara is a reporter for The Mountain-Ear.