sna poems #111: spruce lake bog

spruce lake bog is classic bog territory. a (relatively) undisturbed bog lake in a kettle, very diverse flora more characteristic of northern sphagnum bogs, according to the wdnr’s description.

i was grateful for the boardwalk that allowed for a walk all the way thru the bog to the lake thru the sphagnum and the bog forest of tamaracks and black spruces and some hardwoods. a light rain was falling and just warm enough not to bundle up.

highlight for sure was the pitcher plants thick on the ground (first id). amazing.


red floral fingers

in the rain

spiders in and out


tumbling tangle

sprawled beneath

the bare tamaracks

sna poems, series supplementum #32: cedarburg environmental study area

the cedarburg environmental study area is a rehabilitated parcel of 38 acres in ozaukee cty wisconsin. conifer forest, hardwood forest, a stream, ponds, and wetlands, the area was rehabbed by a local family from agricultural fields. amazing what a few decades and some devoted humans can do for the land and the many creatures who live here (seeing a good many even before spring really gets moving in wisconsin).

fungus and ice and pond bank life and many many trees.


a single pine cone

held aloft

by shrubby fingers


long cracks and hollows


the sheer edge of ice


willow gnarled with growth

on bog ice

goose honks fill the air


duckweed swarms the bank

as snailshells

bask in golden light

if you made it this far, here’s a sequence viewing some serious fungal work on a tree:

sna poems, series supplementum # 31: shannon preserve

shannon preserve is 34 acres down the road from the cedarburg bog sna on hwy 33 in ozaukee cty. marsh, shrub carr, lowland hardwood forest, wet and upland meadows. no trails to speak of, which was nice. an unnamed stream meanders thru the site on its way to one of the lakes in cedarburg bog. its ice shelf was precarious and fun to admire.

we hung out with a white breasted nuthatch, and came out of the woods to meet two sandhill cranes flying across the meadow singing away—our first sandhill sighting of the year. it was our first hike outside the city in weeks, the first with warm sun in months. it was a good day.


the curling moss fronds


march’s late-day sun


white breasted nuthatch

chirps over

marooned feather flumes


sandhills—necks like waves—

skirt meadow

past wind-blasted oak

sna poems, series anthropocenum #16: downer woods

this 11-acre wood sits on uw-milwaukee’s campus and is being rehabilitated by the uwm field station. tucked right in there b/t campus and some housing, fenced in to keep out the riff-raff—you know, buckthorn and wild mustard et al.

it was a bitterly cold afternoon, but the sunlight and a small frozen rivulet afforded good fun for all. and we happened on a doodad-festooned tree that was a surprise.

the forest is sleeeeeping.


golden rivulet

piercing eye

in the bitter cold


a woodpecker’s knock

comes gently—

february air


dense suffocation

under leaves

on winter’s still ground

photo cred on the burrs to my second-born.

sna poems, series supplementum #30: nashotah park

nashotah park in waukesha county includes 444 acres, two lakes, oak-hickory woods, prairie, and marsh. there’s also a small oak savanna on grass lake.

we went for a ski around the whole area, more or less, as isolated snowflakes tumbled from the sky. other folks were out enjoying the snow, including some ice fishermen.

beautiful, rolling glacial land. flip-phone photos, three lunes (three lines, 5-3-5 syllables) for you.


red-headed staghorn

and the drone

of i-94


red oaks balancing

kettle slope

arc like lover’s neck


cattail cul-du-sac


sand, water, marsh muck

sna poems, series anthropocenum #15: north mendota wildlife area, prairie unit

the bureaucratically-named north mendota wildlife area, prairie unit is a 63-acre prairie restoration close to the northwestern shore of lake mendota, sandwiched between governor nelson state park and holy wisdom monastery (an ecumenical benedictine community) along cty highway m.

this is one of those natural areas that i am so grateful for and that also can be hard to be in at the same time. it’s fantastic that the good work of preservation is being done here, yet one also sees the new development with its box stores, massive houses, and roads named after the habitats destroyed in order to build (prairie kettle road etc.) immediately adjacent. it’s not the adjacency that bothers me, as if natural areas should be free of human activity and building (cronon taught us how problematic the very idea of “wilderness” is, and would that all human development retained prairies etc. right nearby!), but that clearly the area was prairie too or could have been restored just as readily as the parcel that was.

anyhow, it was the day of our only lasting snow so far this winter here in southern wisconsin, and my brother and i made the most of it. refreshing to visit in the brisk yet desolate winter air and sun, but looking forward to visiting in summer’s height too.


burred balls and seedpods

reaching out

to subdivisions


all this wonderful

tangled mess—

cellulose soil-helm***

(***couldn’t help but laugh out loud and announce my “brilliant” line reminiscent of old english half-lines to my brother after i wrote the last line of this one…)

sna poems, series supplementum # 29: honey creek preserve

[delayed post:]

with its legal preservation going back to the 1940s and 50s among wisconsin society for ornithology members and friends, the honey creek preserve has ballooned with partnership with the nature conservancy to multiple parcels including bog, marsh, dry prairie, sedge meadow, pine relicts, swamp, and sandstone gorge on almost 400 acres. all along honey creek’s valley.

this is the second patch of the preserve i’ve explored, and i can’t wait to get back to explore more. this was a short and steep hike along the sandstone cliffs with unreal thorn thickets. close and dense and hot and humid. the baraboo hills just can’t be beat.

first id of feral catnip too.


light thru oak and elm

the locals

are not pleased with me


over the sheer edge


stretches out for sun


past the touch-me-nots

curling thorns

net and weave hillside

sna poems, #110: audubon goose pond

audubon goose pond is a turbid pond with surrounding prairie in a marshy basin of ground moraine. we hiked the prairie in the year’s first good snow—a little dodgy at points, but piloted with grace and confidence by my brother.

the pond itself is not accessible due to the protections in place for the many bird species who make the area their home, but the prairie was lovely as the snow fell and wind blew. something about prairies in winter; i just love it.

two further notes: this plot and some surrounding parcels are further remnants of the formerly huge empire prairie that spanned swaths of these parts north of madison.

back to the flip phone for this venture.


winds away southward

new snowfall

on russet and black


this rolling swelling

ground was once

the empire prairie


a single oak leaf


in the grassy wind

human tracks.
snowy, grey prairie sky.

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: