sna poems #131: nipissing swamp

nipissing swamp is, according to the wdnr website, the largest remnant hardwood swamp in northeastern wisconsin. fascinatingly, the swamp is in a wetland basin that was formerly a lagoon of glacial lake nipissing (which name refers to an indigenous nation in canada). the beach can still be seen in remnant dunes and barrens.

it was gun deer hunting season last weekend, and our blaze orange was in the other vehicle, so we didn’t go in deep. but even getting off the road a bit was a delight. across the first swampy swale and onto the first ridge, balancing on downed logs across the mud. the club moss was out in droves and soaking up the late-autumn sun. gorgeous swamp weather with birch and cedar swaying above.


in the place of elms

club mosses

have taken the hill


branches sway for sky

only pen

no gun in my hand


needles scruff my neck


horsegrass in cool breeze

sna poems, series supplementum #35: lima bog again

teaching seamus heaney’s bog body poems today, so we took a quick pit stop at lima bog sna on the way back to milwaukee from our ancestral home in rock cty yesterday.

got right into the tamarack stand, but not enough time to get to the open lake at its bogheart. next time!


in the new gloaming

golden cloud

of tamarack sleep


in a mackerel sky,

two wingspans

and a rainbow globe


asters in the sedge

looking out,

petals to water

sna poems #130: grassy lake

a shallow seepage lake according to the dnr’s website, grassy lake is situated low with wetlands around it. a road cuts thru the area and allows access without a boat, water on either side. many aquatic and wetland plants make the area home, as well as many water-associated birds—we saw an abandoned bald eagle’s nest across the road first thing.

this was a short stint, letting the kids take turns with the rubber boots to poke around in the wetland area by the lake proper. fun stop with a picnic before pressing on to lodi for the corn maze.


tottering titting

of killdeer

call from mud to mud


nothing standing still:


hum over drowned birch


burs in my wrist’s hair

down below

hot october sun

sna poems #121: mullet creek white cedar wetland

this sna is a wet-mesic forest and wetland complex in a larger wildlife area, dominated by white cedar and surrounded by farmland. the wetland areas have indicator species for calcium-rich water.

it’s the end of summer, so plant growth is at its peak. this, combined with the navigability of the saturated soils, the lack of paths, and the disturbing sound of what we can only assume was a hog-slaughtering occurring on a farm in an adjacent valley, precluded us from getting deep into the forest. but on a stretch of road away from that valley i was able to get in a bit and nose around, to the less bone-chilling sound of sandhill cranes in the fields across the street.

a less immersive and interactive stop than those later in the day.

the shrieking of pigs

and swamp mud

stop us in our tracks

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, #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.

sna poems, #87: new munster bog island

new munster bog island is sandy knoll of hardwoods surrounded by shrub-carr and tamarack bog. the kids were along for this one, and a couple did try to bushwhack with me, but that shrub-carr was tough, and we got turned back before we reached the knoll.

however, after some time crawling around in the mud and moss, we went back and enjoyed the habitat around and in palmer creek, which lies between the sna and the parking area. saw waxwings and herons, springs under bold spring skies. lovely.

i did find a patch of watercress (thanks to the wdnr and british poet geraldine clarckson for the i.d.), which was very pretty, but also a non-native that can choke out other plants in cold-water springs. and it was in a spring run. next time i’ll forage it, giving other plants some room and us some food direct from the earth.




holds afar


we’re grendels

in the mere—

bog monsters


waxwing in the willow

your form

to the pine crown

sna poems #86: texas island woods

texas island woods is a mature hardwood forest inhabiting an “island” upland surrounded by marsh and shrub swamp in jefferson county, wisconsin. access is via a causeway path, which i assume is man-made. this was my last hike of the day, and it had gotten really hot for the first time this year.

that wasn’t so bad, but the fact that the woods is surrounded by wetlands meant there was also a serious number of mosquitoes—while this is wisconsin and i should be prepared for them, it was early enough in the year that this was the first time i’d been swarmed. trying to take pictures, my hands were covered by 8-10 mosquitoes by the time i was able to close the (digital) shutter…

but a delightful wood with what appears to be a healthy under story, with lots of large-flowered trillium and mayapple. the highlight of the trip was getting close enough to the wood’s edge to see that it was in fact an “island” by the break in trees and water/marsh plants beyond (as above). this was the last sna to visit in jefferson county!


here is the misstep, the weak-knee

it’s late in the day

among the shagbark and trillium


mosquitoes cloud

and thorns tear

in this island wood

sna poems #77: allen creek wetlands

allen creek wetlands is a small wetland complex of wet sedge meadow, wet prairie, and fen along allen creek, which flows into the rock river a bit south of the site. access is limited, but we were able to have some fun interaction at the wetland’s edge. a lovely stand of marsh marigolds said ‘hi’ from the ditch on the other side of star school road.


the ripe smell

of ropey gametophytes—

kids on the moss


the deeps of life

duckweed, branch

marsh marigold in sun

sna poems #72: rhine center bog

rhine center bog is a bog lake formed within a kettle, the depression left by a melting block of buried glacial ice. tamaracks to the south, a mesic hardwood forest on the uplands, and dense, boggy ground all about.

my trip was punctuated by light submersion in the peat (with appropriate footwear) and by the leavings of animal and bird corpses—the latter a poignant reminder of the aspect of nature walks we don’t often like to think about. and caution: a few pictures of the remains (not too graphic) appear after the final three-liner.

(note again: still on the excursion with the flip-phone, so photos aren’t all that clear.)


the bog exhales with each step

under marsh wren’s tone-spray,

here where piling tussocks reign


skunk cabbage

deer scat:

sphagnum perch


yellow birch conspired with moss,

offered an island for human bones—

no names for birds all around


fungus and tooth

would make quick work

if i fell and didn’t get up