A long time ago in 1963, when Michigan Nature Association was known as the Macomb Nature Association, there was a sign that stood at the Big Hand Road Plant Preserve that read Nature Sanctuary – Big Hand Road – Macomb Nature Association. The sign lived through rain, blizzard and bitter cold winters to greet visitors at this plant preserve.
On a few occasions a wood thrush known for being a recluse would sit atop the sign and sing a beautiful song that would resonate through the impenetrable silence of the forest. A sudden gush of wind and the little bird would flutter off to the secure refuge of its nest with inner wall of mud high up in a small sapling.
Surrounded by three distinct forest types, the sign stood in a preserve inhabited by various other birds like crested flycatcher, black-billed cuckoo, tufted titmouse, northern yellowthroat, red-eyed towhee among others that would frequently fly past the humble sign. Befriending many birds, trees, insects, and flowers, the sign became an indispensible part of the preserve.
After braving the harsh weather for years finally the time came when the sign at the Big Hand Road Plant Preserve was taken down owing to various factors like a name change from Macomb Nature Association to Eastern Michigan Association in 1965 and then finally to Michigan Nature Association in 1970.
Now a new sign with the new name has taken charge of welcoming visitors at the plant preserve which is now called Bertha A. Daubendiek Memorial Plant Preserve.
This plant preserve continues to be a favorite among nature enthusiasts particularly beginners in nature study and those looking for a short walk on the quarter-mile trail.
The story of the old sign at the Bertha A. Daubendiek Memorial Plant Preserve does not end with the installation of a new sign. Even though inanimate, the purpose and spirit of the sign is kept alive by MNA’s staff, stewards, trustees, interns, and volunteers that work consistently to help retain Michigan its natural form.
Text by Anusuya Das