state natural area poems #49: carver-roehl woods

carver-roehl woods is a dry mesic wood with limestone cliffs cut by spring brook creek. (this spring brook feeds into turtle creek and is not to be confused with the spring brook that feeds into the rock river directly in janesville.) the cliffs support less common plant communities, while the woods have mature oaks, hop hornbeam, ash, and ironwood, with red and white pine on the high ridge above the eastern bank’s cliffs. the site lies on ground moraine from a glaciation before the last. gorgeous.


limestone cliffs before sunrise

on spring brook not of my youth

skirting along the ridge


a log bridge to this rock seat:

red cedar, white oak,

the creek playing mason

state natural area poems #46: swenson wet prairie

swenson wet prairie is now a part of the avon bottoms s.n.a. but it was established as its own site, so i’m counting it. it’s a wet prairie in the floodplain of the sugar river near where the river meets taylor creek. there’s also a sedge meadow and river bottom savanna(!), and a number of oxbows. its frozen state this december is gorgeous.


open water

below swamp oaks

is sheer grace


a blue bird sits

over frozen duckweed—

graceful arcs

state natural area poems #45: magnolia bluff

magnolia bluff is the second highest point in rock county, in the county’s western uplands area. the undisturbed cliff-side reveals the two primary forms of bedrock in the county: st. peter sandstone and dolomite limestone. the western ridge also harbors a population of the endangered plant, kitten tails(!).


here limestone and sandstone meet,

bare themselves for all

naked to the eye and light


standing on the place-rock

the winter sun sets

we are mammals seeking warmth

state natural area poems #44: kessler railroad prairie


down the power-line corridor

blue-stem, sleeping blazing-star—

jumping mouse gotta jump


along the creek, old friends:

warm metamorphic stone

below box-elder canopy


sun-shower on bass creek

peninsula, sand and loam

the stream’s great gift

kessler railroad prairie is just what it sounds like. an old rail line was ripped up and prairie restored out between hanover and afton in rock county. it’s a fun 13-acre strip of land along massive power lines, and how great that the corridor was made back into a place that could shelter so many species of native plants, rodents, and voles. bass creek runs thru. a welcome, windy visit to the grasslands this afternoon.

state natural area poems #43: fair meadows


winter sun glints

off marsh-ice below savanna

humble light for the world


the hills swell and keel, breaking

for kettle hummocks. lone

hickory leaf tumbles down the incline


the scent of scorched earth,

shock of tree-fall—

nuthatches keeping alive

fair meadows is a delightful patch of land with savanna, wet prairie, shrub-carr, and marsh communities. the land is well tended, especially with an eye toward increasing an endangered plant’s population. a fabulous walk, complete with getting “marshed” in ankle-deep water—completely worth it!

a special ‘thank you’ to the private owners of this sna for welcoming us onto their earthy treasure.

state natural area poems #41: lima bog


up the river valley we’ve come

to glacial world’s end

out-wash, kettle, ice-work


tree-corpses glazed with snow

cold water driving granite

glimpse of bullrushes—ah! bogland


the muskrats live a whole world here

their little neighborhood circled by tamarack

hunkering down now for winter

lima bog is a four-acre hard water bog lake surrounded by forest. tamarack and muskrat lodges greeted us as we came out of the wood to the open wetland area. early morning in the bog with the lowing of cows in the distance: can’t beat it.