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
in the firmament
thru white spread feathers
[this lune was based on our spotting of a bald eagle soaring on our approach to the forest…]
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
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:
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.
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.
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 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’sbook 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.)
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!
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.
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.
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.