Middleville Spring Park doesn't look like anything special. Tucked behind a Speedway gas station on M-37 on the southern edge of Middleville, it appears to be a typical small town park with a baseball diamond, some swings and a jungle gym, a picnic shelter, and a few disc golf baskets. Yet, if you follow an inconspicuous trail, marked only by a small brown notice "MDEQ Wetland Conservation Easement", north from the ball field, you will find a hidden natural gem-- small, valuable, and (in-season) colorful.
Beyond the park is a fen: a rare habitat for some special wildflowers. Some people call it the Barry County fen and others refer to the Middleton fen. I don't know if it has an official name and I'm not sure it's officially part of Spring Park but it is open to the public with a few benches, bridges, and a short boardwalk. Fens are wetlands somewhat like bogs but while bogs are acidic, fens have a neutral or alkaline pH and a high mineral content.
The fen doesn't offer dramatic scenery. Instead, its beauty is small-scale and requires the viewer to stop and look. When I visited in September, Fringed Gentians were in bloom all along the creek; orchids and other wildflowers bloom there in other seasons.
I teach economics at Kalamazoo College. My wife is also an economist. We were on sabbatical in Europe for the 2014-15 academic year. (Salamanca, Spain, followed by Oxford, UK.) We were in Uruguay for the 2006-7 academic year.