sna poems, #109: haskell noyes woods

haskell noyes is an oak and maple wood in the northern kettle moraine state forest in fond du lac cty. it was an early very cold day when we visited, and the serpentine trail up the interlobate moraine reminded me of how impressive the topography of this area is: dramatic, steep drop-offs; lowly, quiet kettles resting below; surprising plateaus between ridges; meandering piles of glacier-moved and -crunched earth.

gorgeous even at the height of winter-dark days.

a.

moss will hang on

winter-long

oak leaves underneath

photo credit to my 7-yr-old.

b.

in the firmament

golden light

thru white spread feathers

[this lune was based on our spotting of a bald eagle soaring on our approach to the forest…]

if you made it this far: there was quite a tip-up at the entrance to the wood that revealed in a lovely way how gravelly the interlobate moraine soil is. check it out:

sna poems, #107: milwaukee river tamarack lowlands and dundee kame

first off, let me say here that the state natural area program, the nation’s oldest state-wide system of natural areas, turns 70 this year. you can read about the program and the new directions they’re going here.

winter is here in wisconsin. this trip from last week up to fond du lac cty took us back to the kettle moraine state forest. it was colder than expected, but we made our pathless way up white kame. on hands and knees at points due to shrub growth and thorns, it was all worth it as we looked over the ground moraine prairie and wetlands below the glacial till cone. also in view from there and from the plain was dundee kame, a 250 ft kame just north of the sna.

kames are just not photogenic (at least without serious photo equipment), so the pictures simply don’t do justice to the steepness and dramatic topography involved in this glacial melt-water sculpture.

a.

white kame in its bulk

and lovely

advent on moraine

b.

jays to the left and right

no crane calls

in the open fields

if you made it this far, more oak grown solitary atop the kame:

fin.

sna poems #79: crooked lake wetlands

crooked lake is a seepage lake surrounded by a diverse wetland complex all about (including open bogs, my favorite aside from fens…), forest, cedar lake, and other unnamed lakes—all settled amidst the interlobate morainal hills of the northern kettle moraine. crooked lake’s outlet forms a tributary of the east branch of the milwaukee river, which flows right down the hill from my place in milwaukee on its way out to lake michigan.

fantastic walk with perfect spring weather under glorious skies, and many spring ephemerals—some emerging, some at full tilt, and others already on their way out for the year. saw our first stand of bellwort, which i’ve been looking for since last march, so it was a sheer delight to lay in the soil and spend some time with them.

this was the last state natural area to explore in sheboygan county. good to have another county covered, but, as we say in wisconsin: forward!

a.

liverwort dying back

on each and every hillside

the lake only from afar

b.

streakt & frilling threeness

skirts trunk & frogcall

mayapple waiting to bloom

c.

legging it past kettle bog

and eureka! you’ve found me—bellwort

riding above the muck

since i haven’t stated this here in a while: this “state natural area poems” project began last year when lockdown happened in wisconsin, in order to have something to do with my kids as well as to keep us grounded in our local and regional habitats.

it started with the idea of visiting a state natural area (the preserves with the highest protections in wisconsin), going for a walk, taking a picture, and writing a three-liner about whatever we encountered there. and the original area was milwaukee county and adjacent counties. it’s now mushroomed into the main series and two sub-series, way more counties, and usually many more than one photo and one poem per site. the natural world just gives too much for such meager making!

i’ll keep going until we run out of sites to visit (not likely) or breath leaves the body.

peace to you and yours.

sna poems #78: kettle hole woods

kettle hole woods is situated on a hill in the interlobate moraine formed by that glacier i have to keep referring to when i report on going up to the kettle-moraine in sheboygan county (which will have a resurgence once i start getting up to fond du lac county…).

it’s a nice secluded spot, open, with lots of geese at the moment who are not terribly amenable to visitors. the trees are shifting from oak-dominated to maple and beech. a lovely display of cloud and sky over the small unnamed lake.

a.

geese give angry honks

in kettle low, spreading—

pine and skull morning

b.

lonely jack

in his striped suit,

green sanctuary

sna poems #75: butler lake flynn’s spring

set in kettle-moraine state forest’s northern unit, butler lake is a 7-acre marl-bottomed lake with surrounding sedge meadow, and flynn’s spring is a small spring brook that flows into the lake. a former tamarack swamp has all but died off, tho’ tamaracks are growing in other sites now.

rising above the western shore is parnell esker, which is four miles long, is 5-35 ft. tall, and was formed by a sub-glacial river that filled in with gravel and other sediment during the last glaciation.

i hope to get back to spend more time here some day, since i had to get back to the city fairly quickly after i climbed to the eskertop. (continuing note: this was the last flip-phone visit, so these images are still low-res.)

a.

the sedge’s show

quiet and waving

sun out from clouds

b.

footfalls and lamb’s ear

on the eskertop—

some are soft, some rough

c.

do you hear the tamaracks

sing as they drown?

birdsong on the water

sna poems, supplementum #21: kettle-moraine state forest northern unit, greenbush trails

the kettle-moraine state forest is a long, delightful gash of interlobate moraine that formed from the tussling of the green bay lobe and lake michigan lobe of the laurentide ice sheet as they advanced and retreated over thousands of years.

on this particular trip, i hiked to the top of a morainal ridge and sat on a rock to read phyllis walsh’s book river. if you’re a lover of short, dense poems, you should certainly check out walsh’s hummingbird press, if you haven’t already. and check out their HUMMINGBIRD: Magazine of the Short Poem. another wisconsin poet (in addition to lorine niedecker) inspired and encouraged to dense, imagistic poetry by cid corman. the poems below are imitative of those found in the river collection.

(note again: still the flip-phone trip; low res images.)

a.

april arctic air

crane-call answers to walsh’s

poems on the crest

b.

cloudy day

liverwort blooms

on ice’s relic

sna poems #70: young prairie

young prairie is a sizable remnant wet-mesic prairie in the southern kettle moraine area, though it was pretty dry given our general lack of rain the last while in this part of wisconsin.

dthis early, there was little flashy growth to call our attention, but seeing the very beginnings of this year’s prairie grass was a subtle excitement. just the muffled crunch of last year’s vegetation and an open-air walk were enough to make the early trip worthwhile.

this trip also marked our last sna in walworth county!

a.

the birds are building

over strawed thatch

green blades shoot

b.

the cups of lichen children

will forage the strewn bark

living bare to the sun

sna poems #69: kettle moraine oak opening

kettle moraine oak opening is very much what it sounds like, though there’s plenty of oak woods too. another sna in the interlobate moraine area between two fingers of the last glaciation (the lake michigan lobe and green bay lobe), the rolling and tumbling topography between steep ridges and kettle holes is always a delight to meander thru. maintaining the oak opening and small prairies on the knobs takes some doing, and we visited (it looks like) a week or two after a prescribed burn. the smell was fertile.

saw our first round-lobed liverwort too—the hairs on the scape don’t come across in the photos, but they were thick with white hairs, and heavy-laden with pollen.

a.

char and ash dust the ground

below a cardinal’s rapid song

the gravelly knob’s singed scent

b.

belly-splayed

on bald bluff

sun basking

c.

a great relief of land

mossed arms of oak

reach out over liverwort

sna poems, supplementum anthropocenum # 6: lapham peak

lapham peak is the highest point in waukesha county and is part of the kettle moraine state forest. it’s named after wisconsin’s first serious naturalist and scientist, increase a. lapham. as the sign pictured below notes, lapham made the first national weather service forecast from here in 1870. not bad.

a nice spot, even if the observation tower usually accessible here was closed for the winter.

a.

the land was good to increase

as he ranged from its heights right here

to its rivers’ mounded mouths

b.

the tower’s stout wood

bears the trace of frost

a spiral to the winter sky

sna poems, supplementum #16: kettle moraine state forest, lapham peak unit

lapham peak is a unit of the kettle moraine state forest in south eastern wisconsin. this unit of the heavily glaciated forest is named after wisconsin’s first serious naturalist and scientist, increase a. lapham, and contains the highest point in waukesha county.

anyway, it was about -4 F when i arrived for a ski this morning, with the usual blessings of early-morning skiing in sub-zero temperatures: eyelids freezing to one another, toes that go numb if you stop for more than a minute or two, biting cold on the skin during downhill runs. the kind of stuff that a certain kind of cross-country skier actually thinks is kind of fun. my only regret is that i had trimmed back my full beard a week ago; i would have had an amazing ice-beard by the end had i kept it until today. oh well.

a.

the poles’ tuck into snow

sounds like sandhill cranes

calling aloft for their mates

b.

so cold the pen’s ink rebels

as deer make hungry way by windfall

we’re all here, breathing at dawn

c.

these hills like waves

in a choppy sea

frozen in time