ORIGINAL PROJECT DONE! state natural area poems #40: fairy chasm

Well: the original project of visiting all 28 State Natural Areas in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, Waukesha, and Racine Counties that I imagined when COVID-shutdown commenced is complete as of this morning with a visit to Fairy Chasm SNA. The original idea (visit each area, take one picture, write one three-line poem) blossomed out into many more pictures and poems, and two sub-series.

A HUGE thank you to my wife and kids (who’ve visited almost all of them with me), and to everyone who’s stopped here to read one, two, or all of them!

So: the original projection is done. But of course there are hundreds more SNAs, and I will press on visiting them and keep this project going as I’m able, since it has helped me to learn so much about the geology, natural history, and plant, animal, moss, lichen, and fungal communities of the world around me here in southeastern Wisconsin. But most of all, to forge connections with the earth itself (with all its various systems) and all these creatures who share our common home. So stay tuned if you like. 🙂

Here’s more:


owls and kinglets at dawn

the chickadees keep us company—

rivulets into streams into seas


we march along ridges

sky-jewel burning thru birches

logs thru translucent ice


limestone my childhood’s rock

tumbled off unarticulated till—

death is worth this sedimentary brotherhood


a downy woodpecker ensouls the sky

frost feathers leaf and moss

glaciers give bountiful gifts


nature’s an abstraction. rock

and sand, water, bark and bird—

these touch the hand, creature the heart.

fairy chasm state natural area is a 22-acre plot of land surrounding—you guessed it—fairy chasm, a gorge thru which runs fish creek. the creek has worn thru unconsolidated glacial till and drains directly into lake michigan. the north side of the gorge has a micro-climate amenable to more northerly species, and a wood of white pine, white cedar, birches, and beech. the south side is gentler with juniper ground cover.

no wood-meres, water-elves, or other fairy-folk were spotted.

(i also took a detour into donges bay gorge natural area, since i parked there to get to fairy chasm…)

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