Martin Park Nature Center is opening an hour earlier Saturdays and offering an outdoor yoga class this summer for those who want to experience wildlife at the edge of the city.
By 8:30 a.m. Saturday, the park had already been open for half an hour, and a few cars had possession of the parking lot. As much of the world used the morning to sleep in, the birds and animals were awake, and so were a handful of women laying out blankets and mats for a yoga lesson.
Keren Beasley, an art teacher at Mark Twain Elementary School, was leading two friends on an early morning hike.
The superintendent of the park was taking part in the yoga class and zoning out traffic sounds from the John Kilpatrick Turnpike a few hundred yards away. She didn't notice a doe walk by the group and make a huffing sound. Later, she laughed and said she wished she could've seen it.
“You don't have to go out of the city to find nature,” Jennifer McClintock said. “Nature is right here on Memorial Road.”
Most of the activities are free. Guided tours cost $2, and the yoga class is $10 per session.
“For me, it's being able to disconnect from the computer, the television, all of those things that keep us channeled in to what we call our modern reality,” McClintock said. “It's not just for nature lovers. It's like a retreat.”
For Beasley, going to the nature center is a small reminder of her hometown — Crescent, population 1,400 — an hour north of Oklahoma City.
Beasley said she walks the trails at Martin Park every weekend, and on Saturday she was with a friend from college and the woman's husband. They came to a bridge, and she leaned over the railing and pointed out snapping turtles and fish that were more than a foot long.
She said sometimes the water level gets very shallow. Other times it floods, and runoff from the red dirt forms new banks on Bluff Creek that weren't there before.