state natural area poems #9 a and b: riveredge creek and ephemeral pond

sedge sings out in tussocky throbs

to lonely kettle’s close

skunk cabbage now green parasols

riveredge 2

riveredge creek slinks on

rivulets run like a web

while silent iris strains

riveredge 3

riveredge 4riveredge 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…

 

state natural area poems, supplementum #4: durward’s glen

we spook a blue heron

treading up prentice creek

stone streaming to pebble

durward's glen 3

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.

durwards glen 1

durward's glen 4

state natural area poems, supplementum #3: man mound park

man mound’s horns

appropriately ferned

in spring rain

baraboo river

(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.

state natural area poems, supplementum #2 a and b: donges bay gorge

wild turkey up the gorge

forget-me-nots support the sky

the mind saturated by oak

donges 1

springs seep from the bluff-face

over eastsoil baking in sun

rivulets and restless children

donges 2

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.

(Plus, Jack-in-the-pulpit:)

donges 3

state natural area poems, supplementum #1 a and b: bratt woods

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

bratt woods #1

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.

state natural area poems #7 a, b, c: tichigan springs and fen

tangled cluster of boughs

lain low among the pines—

red and mottled survivors

tichigan s&f 2

at the marsh edge

tussocks of moss watch,

rich with mucky life

tichigan s&f 3(kinda)

the redwing blackbirds live

in a world all their own

cattails and fenreek curve,

cradling the earth’s bounds

tichigan s&f 1

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.

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=689

Thanks to the Wisconsin DNR for tending this place.

state natural area poems #6a and 6b: jackson marsh

6a:

you point feverishly to warblers

as swifts swarm the marsh

trout lily is in bloom

jackson marsh 3

6b:

brilliant flash of orange

breaks over cedar creek:

your eyes against the sky

jackson marsh 2

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.

state natural area poems #5: milwaukee river floodplain forest

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.

ice age trail outside kewaskum

https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/Lands/naturalareas/index.asp?SNA=253

With gratitude to the Wisconsin DNR for maintaining this patch of earth.

New Project for the Pandemic Era…

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…