sna poems, series supplementum #39: kratzsch preserve

kratzsch preserve is a 72-acre wood and wetland lot of former farmland rehabilitated by the ozaukee and washington county land trust. they’re doing good work here people. prairie, marsh, hardwood forest, frontage on the milwaukee river, glacial topography; little bit of everything.

this was a great hike, up and down, good steady wind on the prairie but some shelter in the woods and down by the river. snow drifts gave us a workout. sat with the robins and redwing blackbirds by the river for a spell. four lunes and views for you.


snowmarsh and cattails

crows cawing—

trunk shadow and gone


cork margin’s lake-edge

on dead birch

perilous gambit


prairie grass hoophouse

seedhead sprays

accent the esker


confluence upstream


runs on in light snow

sna poems, series supplementum #37: scuppernong springs

scuppernong springs is a natural area in the south unit of the kettle moraine state forest, a rehabilitated wetland area (mostly marsh) along scuppernong creek-then-river. it was once the site of marl pits and works, a hotel, a trout hatchery, and cranberry bogs, but the wdnr and others have been doing lots of work.

a lovely site to walk thru, the boundary between land and water pretty shaky at times. kids loved it; playing in the stream in the 40s and cloudy with the waterproof boots. my 6yo fell in finally as a soft spring rain began to fall as well; he was fine. 🙂

‘scuppernong’ is reportedly from a ho-chunk word that means ‘sweet-smelling place.’


cool air and crane song

spring water

cuts gravel and sand


below the cattails

slate-blue sand

feeding the river


before the spring-mouth

spring rain starts

scuppernong drifts by

sna poems #112: spring lake (now w/ video!)

spring lake is an alkaline lake surrounded by fen and northern wet forest. the wdnr says the shoreline is a bog shelf and that plants characteristic of fens and bogs live together in the mats of vegetation surrounding, an odd combination.

we were game for it, and the area was inviting (especially with rubber boots). we were welcomed most prominently by two (then three) sandhill cranes making regular calls the whole time we were there, with the echoes of another pair somewhere beyond the tamaracks sounding in between.

the year’s first sighting of skunk cabbage!


cranes stand on the ice

calling out—

here in the cattails

(you can hear the cranes calling here. a couple a half mile away or so kept calling back.)


a single oak leaf

under ice

cool breeze between trees


over tamaracks,

skunk cabbage,

polypores: grey sun

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.


moss will hang on


oak leaves underneath

photo credit to my 7-yr-old.


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.


white kame in its bulk

and lovely

advent on moraine


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:


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!


liverwort dying back

on each and every hillside

the lake only from afar


streakt & frilling threeness

skirts trunk & frogcall

mayapple waiting to bloom


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.


geese give angry honks

in kettle low, spreading—

pine and skull morning


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.)


the sedge’s show

quiet and waving

sun out from clouds


footfalls and lamb’s ear

on the eskertop—

some are soft, some rough


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.)


april arctic air

crane-call answers to walsh’s

poems on the crest


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!


the birds are building

over strawed thatch

green blades shoot


the cups of lichen children

will forage the strewn bark

living bare to the sun