the christmas vacation almost over, i made a brash decision to head up to calumet county for two sna’s, converging on lake winnebago with three generations of family.
stockbridge ledge woods was the first stop, a mature forest atop the niagra escarpment, according to the wdnr website. lots of sugar maple, beech, and oak. though it’s january, it was in the upper 30s so felt like a thaw. some snow still clinging, but lots of places bare too. lots of moss and lichen, but also some liverwort coming up (or hanging on?), and some grasses still green. woodpeckers briefly the only sounds aside from upright primates.
the niagra escarpment, made of ordovician-silurian dolomite, is the edge of an ancient sea with exposures from new york thru southeastern wisconsin. the exposures in this part of wisconsin are known collectively as “the ledge.”
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
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
bask in golden light
if you made it this far, here’s a sequence viewing some serious fungal work on a tree:
there are five remnant prairies left of the formerly massive empire prairie, which covered around 50,000 acres in wisconsin’s columbia and dane counties. the westport drumlin site is remarkable for the dramatic relief of the drumlin (a whale-shaped hill shaped by a glacier) caused by the surrounding corn-filled fields. also of particular note is the presence of an oak opening on one side, a fairly rare ecosystem these days. the rock outcroppings along parts of the drumlin indicate the glacier may not have sculpted this drumlin as extensively as normal.
it was a very wet and very satisfying walk. we turned back once due to lightning, but then the rain let up and we changed course once again. after a walk along the bottom of the drumlin and into the oak opening (rain sounding great on the leaves), i trekked up to the ridge and had a look about the lowlands surrounding. a graceful time. also, first conscious encounters with leadplant, thimbleweed, and flowering spurge. the soundscape is flush with raindrops.
thanks to the wdnr and groundswell conservancy for protecting this site.