Photograph courtesy Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Here’s Looking at You
Located in Lucas, Ohio, Malabar Farm was the home of Pulitzer Prize–winning author Louis Bromfield, and the property is perhaps most famous for being the site of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall’s 1945 wedding and honeymoon. From December 6 to 8 and 13 to 15, the Bromfield home is decorated for Christmas and open for its annual Candlelight Holiday Tours, when visitors can tour the house by candlelight and snack on cookies and warm apple cider afterwards. The Holiday Traditions Workshop (December 7) at Caesar Creek State Park in Waynesville offers visitors the opportunity to craft holiday decorations using all natural materials. It’s the perfect opportunity to create your own Christmas presents that are unique, natural, and inexpensive using techniques passed down by generations of Ohio artisans.
From Old Growth to Old Man’s Cave
Make a resolution to start 2014 at the annual First Day Hike (January 1) through the beautiful hills of Shawnee State Park, near Portsmouth. Along the one-mile Lampblack Trail, guides will identify Ohio’s winter wildlife and explain how these organisms survive during the cold winter months. With far fewer visitors in the winter than the summer, you can enjoy peace and solitude in the park’s 1,000 acres. More adventurous types can venture out into the adjacent 64,000-acre Shawnee State Forest and tromp through miles of forested trails.
Old Man’s Cave is named in honor of Richard Rowe, a drifter from Tennessee’s Cumberland Mountains who settled in Hocking Hills and lived in the caves until his death in the mid-19th century. Today, Old Man’s Cave is one of Hocking’s most popular attractions, and visitors can take part in the 49th Annual Winter Hike (January 18) through the park.
Before the 19th century, “old-growth” hardwood forests covered much of Ohio. With most of the state’s woodlands lost to logging, agriculture, and development, stands of old-growth forest are now few and far between. In February, visitors can take part in the annual Winter Hike, a guided tour of Hueston Woods State Park, and see this region as it appeared before westward expansion. Guides will help you identify local plant and animal species on well-maintained footpaths—a low-impact tour that is perfect for kids.
Symplocarpus foetidus, or skunk cabbage, is one of a small group of plants that are capable of thermogenesis, a process by which they produce their own heat. In late winter, skunk cabbage uses this adaptation to melt the surrounding snow and ice, producing a small bloom that is pollinated by emerging flies. Though this plant is found from Nova Scotia to Tennessee, very few people ever recognize it in the wild and even fewer actually get to see the plant during its near-extraterrestrial thermogenic blooming stage. To experience the annual event, attend the Stalking the Skunk Cabbage hike (February 15) at Shawnee State Park. An experienced guide will be on hand to help visitors find this rare and highly specialized plant. Be sure to wear rubber boots—it is sure to be a muddy walk in the woods.
Originally published in the December 2013 issue