sedge sings out in tussocky throbs
to lonely kettle’s close
skunk cabbage now green parasols
riveredge creek slinks on
rivulets run like a web
while silent iris strains
riveredge creek and ephemeral pond state natural area is part of the riveredge nature center, a 61-acre slice of land that includes fen-like habitat with lots of skunk cabbage and spotted cranesbill (wild geranium).
thanks to the riveredge nature center for protecting and rehabilitating this area.
a programming note for myself and anyone who might care: as the final lines of both these poems allude to, i think the timeline of this project has closed. it was originally conceived as a way to get out of the house in safety either alone or with my family when the pandemic first really hit and we were all sheltering in place hard. but with the return of the warm weather and the first serious pushes of reopening, it feels like this project has done its work. i may continue to add more here and there when i get out, but i’m retiring the series as a reason/impetus to go out in the first place. i know several folks have been reading lots of these, and i appreciate your time and care. thanks for reading.
we’ll see if more press themselves on me…
we spook a blue heron
treading up prentice creek
stone streaming to pebble
Durward’s Glen is a gorge of sandstone and conglomerate in Caledonia, Columbia County, Wisconsin, thru which runs Prentice Creek. Bernard Isaac Durward, a Milwaukee painter and poet, purchased the Glen in the mid-nineteenth century, and it has been a center for retreat and natural beauty since.
The day I visited, there was a steady rain all day long and Prentice Creek was swollen. It is one of my favorite places on earth.
man mound’s horns
in spring rain
(Baraboo River, just southeast of Man Mound.)
Man Mound is the last remaining anthropomorphic effigy mound in North America, located in Sauk County near the Lower Narrows of the Baraboo Range. It is one of my favorite places on the earth. If you missed it, I have a new, brief essay set at Man Mound in Commonweal.
I visited yesterday in the cool spring rain. It was glorious.
Thanks to the Sauk County Historical Society for keeping this place. You can support their upkeep here.
wild turkey up the gorge
forget-me-nots support the sky
the mind saturated by oak
springs seep from the bluff-face
over eastsoil baking in sun
rivulets and restless children
Donges Bay Gorge Natural Area is a small upland forest and upland lake bluff with a steep ravine running thru. Thanks to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust for keeping this land.
this ad hoc project, dreamt up to stave off cabin fever during the safer at home order in wisconsin, is too good for my soul to limit solely to official state natural areas any longer—the river has overflowed its banks to other places we’re going, so here’s “supplementum #1,” a and b.
the trout lily’s retired for the year
trillia haunt the ridges
heart speaks to heart
lurking the mudstones
carp ride the tide
tanagers look on in silence
Bratt Woods is a 17-acre nature preserve managed by the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. A trio of scarlet tanagers and the an all-points circle of oriole song high in the canopy were highlights of the trip.
Thanks to the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust for keeping this land.
tangled cluster of boughs
lain low among the pines—
red and mottled survivors
at the marsh edge
tussocks of moss watch,
rich with mucky life
the redwing blackbirds live
in a world all their own
cattails and fenreek curve,
cradling the earth’s bounds
Tichigan Springs and Fen in Racine County is a calcareous fen, meadow, and springs running from an esker, with adjoining marsh and woods in the surrounding Tichigan Wildlife Area. The cowslip (aka marsh marigold) were particularly lovely when we visited.
Thanks to the Wisconsin DNR for tending this place.
you point feverishly to warblers
as swifts swarm the marsh
trout lily is in bloom
brilliant flash of orange
breaks over cedar creek:
your eyes against the sky
Jackson Marsh is a southern wet forest with a white cedar-tamarack swamp of 590 acres. Exquisite, and a much needed break from the city… Thanks again to the Wisconsin DNR for watching over this land.
a frog dives below the current
logcock sprints upstream
the river will not be stopped
The Milwaukee River Floodplain Forest is a bottomland hardwood forest with some upland pockets situated along the East Branch of the Milwaukee River in Washington County, Wisconsin.
With gratitude to the Wisconsin DNR for maintaining this patch of earth.
shagbark hickory up the rise
skunk cabbage strains its spathe–
early risers awash in sun
A beautiful example of old forest strangely right next to Mitchell Airport–dry-mesic, mesic, and lowland forest. Here’s the skunk cabbage we found!
Thank you, Milwaukee County Parks for tending this patch of earth for us.
To maintain sanity, encounter the natural world in my area, and keep the literary instincts moving if not honed, I’m going to start a new project here and on Twitter. (Yes, I’m on Twitter now at @riyeff–those who know me personally will be shocked, I’m sure!)
I’m going to visit the State Natural Areas of Milwaukee County and the four adjacent counties to practice social distancing but also maintain an intimate connection to the natural spaces around my neck of the woods. Then to try to forge some kind of virtual connection with anyone who’s interested, I’ll take a photo and make an impromptu three-line poem (not a haiku unless by accident), posting them here and on Twitter. Maybe other folks will share theirs from other natural areas?
That’s the idea; we’ll see where it goes…