Fall Fen Falls – by Nate Simons

The fringed gentians, Riddell’s goldenrod, grass-of-Parnassus, and nodding ladies’ tresses orchids are in full bloom in September prairie fens. And the water falls gurgle their hypnotic melody. Really?! Yes, really! The falls of autumnal fens continue to babble almost eternally…partially shaded and shrouded by the overhanging sedges and wildflowers in an Edenic or new-heavens-and-new-earth kind of way.

Cool groundwater emerges as a spring in the Nasby Fen's temple garden (1)
Cool groundwater emerges as a spring in the Nasby Fen’s temple garden

Because fens are wetlands situated on a slope and charged hydrologically by a constant flow of cool groundwater, the little waterfalls that are associated with the spring runs flow all year ‘round. Transported subterrainally and emerging as a spring located somewhere in the fen garden, the mineral rich waters deposit their calcium carbonate and magnesium bicarbonate load in the form of marl. This poor-excuse-for-a-soil-but-would-make-better-cement can and does grow wetland plants that can withstand those harsh soil conditions. Over a long period of time, as the plants’ roots slowly decompose under the anaerobic conditions, a layer of peat builds. Still seeking a downhill path and propelled by gravity, the water cuts through the peat dome. Occasional layers of sand or undecomposed peat resists the downward erosion and a water fall forms. The waterfall may only descend a few inches or a foot, but is enough to provide music to the ears of the harken-er.

At the top of the watershed the fall fen waterfalls pool and their waters continue their flow. Water is added to water as the soaked peat releases its groundwater into the spring run. The spring run gains momentum, volume and width and combines with other rivulets. The Pigeon River receives the flow of several fens as it too gains depth and volume and momentum…and life depends upon that flow.

A spring run cuts through the peat at Nasby Fen (2)
A spring run cuts through the peat at Nasby Fen

In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.

Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.

He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.  Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.  But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.” (Ezekial 47:1-12, NLT)

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