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:

sna poems, #107: milwaukee river tamarack lowlands and dundee kame

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

and lovely

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:


new, slim poem in _foxglove journal_

i’ve admired lots of poems in foxglove journal over the last year or so, and so i was duly honored to hear that they’d accepted a poem of mine.

“bogquilt” is a quick read, my attempt at a meeting between seamus heaney’s historico-cultural attentiveness to bogs and lorine niedecker’s dense and playful gaze. it was made in snatches on our way to sapa spruce bog (which long-time readers may recall from sna poems” #25).

thanks to foxglove and to you for stopping by.

sna poems, series anthropocenum #14: milwaukee riverwalk at humboldt ave and riverboat rd

the milwaukee riverwalk goes from the former site of the north ave dam thru downtown and all the way out to where the river meets lake michigan. up by my area near the dam, just east of humboldt ave. bridge the fancy walk ends and it turns into a rougher path, which i happen to like a lot.

i had a bad headache a couple days ago that floored me for the morning, but in the afternoon i staggered out to clear the humors with a brisk walk in a cold, blustery, rainy milwaukee. headed down to my favorite spot between a couple white spruces right on the water to sit and watch the river flow past and on to the lake. some flowers were still putting their hearts into it, lichen and moss as well.

special thanks to the wisconsin dnr for helping me identify the white spruces!


the sparrows’ color

wing perfect

flash from forb to forb


a tattered oak leaf

floats downstream

rain, splash, & river


spruces looking down:

mud anchors

mottled fin and spine

no trash please.

no basura.

sna poems, series supplementum #29: donges bay gorge again

donges bay gorge is a steep ravine that cuts thru an undulating bluff on its way down to lake michigan. this was part of a wealthy landowner’s swath of property but was purchased by the ozaukee washington land trust and, very thankfully, opened up to the public.

lots of spring ephemerals here during the early spring, but mostly going to sleep for the winter now. tho’ we met some delightful fungus, moss, and bark still doing their things. the lake could be heard whispering below and the low-angle sun cut faintly thru the trunks of white pine, maple, red oak, aspen, birch, and linden.

we were trying to get to a different preserve north of here, but it was closed for deer hunting. then we remembered donges bay gorge and how great it was, so we visited again. i think it deserves two slots in the supplementum series. why not?


light snug on the gorge

drowsing forbs

invite us along


water clutching rock

and resting:

a small frozen fall


the mushrooms know well

it’s their time

below the white pines

look at that bark.

anyhow, if you made it this far, i’m thinking this is what it looks like when moss smiles:

sna poems, #106: hortonville bog

hortonville bog is an open ericaceous bog in outagamie county. the southern portion has a wet-mesic forest, and i explored the wet edge of that area. not enough time to get up and thru to the actual sphagnum area of the bog, unfortunately.

we made a quick stop here on the way back from visiting my great-great-great grandfather’s grave near here. (his name was gaudenz ruosch and he was the first ruosch in my family tree to leave switzerland for wisconsin.) it was a beautiful trip altogether, on a brisk and windy november morning.


november breezes

over grass

lichen clutching bark


dark water tracks


ericaceous growth


golden plume of larch

and bird song

near grandfather bones


flark growth

dark mirror

earth eye

photo credit to dad ^

if you made it this far: i was really taken back by the texture and color contrast b/t the berries and dolostone here. wisconsin fall.