Nature Archives

Lagoon Walk: Fall Festival edition

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Lagoon Walk: 90 degree edition


“Sometimes I think that the point of birdwatching is not the actual seeing of the birds,
but the cultivation of patience.” –
Lynn Thomson

90 degrees
Feels Like: 96
Humidity: 54%
Pollen Count: 11.0 (!)

A lazy Labor Day weekend Sunday.
I rise from my second nap of the day.
There are seven library books to return.
So I grab ’em and head for the lagoon.

No birdsong to speak of.
Even the cicadas are keeping it to a dull roar.
I keep an ear out for the bird I’ve been hearing the past couple of weeks that sounds like a monkey.
(That would be the white-breasted nuthatch.)
I don’t even hear that.

I finally catch sight of the great blue heron!
A pair or two of these herons always nest at the lagoon every year.
My summer is never complete until I spot at least one of them.
Now it is.

Walking towards the gazebo/Dream park/shelter part of the park.
A man stands at the lagoon shore talking loudly to himself.
Bluetooth makes it so hard to tell if someone is madly talking to themselves
Or not.
I don’t look hard enough at him to be able to tell if there’s an earpiece
Else he might think I’m slightly mad.

Then I catch site of a young photographer in a pink shirt.
His camera is on a tripod and pointed out over the lagoon.
I surmise the throng of happy people in the shelter must be wedding guests.
Unlike me he probably was able to photograph the great blue heron.

After dropping the library books off I spot a sign along the sidewalk,
The first in a series of four Burma-Shave style signs:



Lagoon Walk: Morning Edition


Friday morning.
A day off from work!
65 degrees.
Pollen count: 4.5
Time for a lagoon walk.

Cardigan weather.
Even though it’s late August.
Once again a season’s boundaries have collapsed.
And let cooler weather barge in.

I hope to see at least see the Great Blue Heron.
Just ducks.
And I hear the “chip” of a Cardinal.

I approach the Dream Park where kids are playing.
Where I logged many, many hours when my kids were younger.
I’ll gladly let others take their turn.
And remain by the lagoon shore where it’s quiet.

Except not.
Followed by a splash.

I look in the water.
Was it a fish?
Did a branch fall in?
A muskrat?
A drowning squirrel?*
Can’t tell.

Raindrops fall.
Should I continue to the library to return a book?
Or head home so as to not get wet?
Library it is.
And the rain stops.

Walking back home.
A father and two sons bike past me.
Dad: Did you want to stay?
Boy: No, I wish it was more fun.

He doesn’t know yet,
The real fun is at the lagoon.
Not the Dream Park.

Have to hustle now.
Clock is ticking.
If I used wearable tech
I would check:

Steps walked
Miles walked
Calories burned
But that would be a good walk spoiled.

Lunch at Cuco’s Mexican restaurant awaits with two daughters.
I slide into the car exactly on time.
Cardigan off.



*This column in the recent edition of the Herald-Independent states that a local resident takes a DIY approach to squirrel control by drowning them.

Lagoon Walk: Cicada Memories

79 degrees.
No wind chill.
Humidity 46%.
Pollen count 11.5.
I conclude it’s high time for a Winnequah lagoon walk.

But you hardly ever go for walks!

She’s right.
I haven’t set foot by the lagoon since eldest daughter’s wedding at the gazebo there.
Back in early June.
I marinate briefly in regret and self-chastisement.
Then head out.

No Fit Bit.
Those are against my religion.
No pedometer either.
I don’t care how many steps I take.

There is no birdsong.
Unless you count the panicked quacks of the three ducks I startled.
Sorry ducks!

There are cicadas.
Of course.
It’s August.
Although these cicadas aren’t as loud,
They remind me instantly of August evenings on my grandparents’ back porch in Dwight, IL.
30 years ago and more now.
I pause for a few minutes under the tree canopy and remember.

Moving on to the more public part of the park.
A teenage neighbor boy is sitting on a park bench and reading.
A dead pulp book.
Not a screen.
He doesn’t see me.
I don’t dare interrupt him and send a silent salute instead.

Speaking of books, I bear right to head to the library where two holds are waiting for me.
The gazebo catches my eye.
There is a wedding there.
I remember again.

Library books in hand I start walking home.
Cicadas much louder now.
Almost Dwight level loudness.

Back home.
I find a Ted Kooser poem:

What cicadas leave behind is a kind of crystallized memory;
The stubborn detail of, the shape around a life turned


Saturday Sunflowers


It’s that sunflower time of the year at Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton.
Cloudy weather this time.
Some post-peak droopiness to the sunflowers, which adds to their charm.
Lots of people though.
Overflow parking.
We used to have the place to ourselves.
Especially in 2012 when the 100 degree days scorched the fields and there were no sunflowers at all.
But news stories and social media have made this place go viral.
Oh well.
I guess it’s a good thing that people get so excited about sunflowers.
The field makes me feel like I’m in a Monet painting.

Our non-professional photos from today:





Some professional photos from this past week that I’ve come across on Facebook:

cassius sunflower:

bunting sunflower



finch sunflower


Wednesday noon art break: sunflower reminder

I’m posting this to remind myself that the sunflowers at Pope Farm Park in Middleton should be in full bloom in the next couple of weeks.


Artwork by Painted Works by KB


Why this smoking section is actually healthy





I couldn’t resist Googling about nests with cigarettes and found this:

Stuffing cigarette butts into the lining of nests may seem unwholesome. But a team of ecologists says that far from being unnatural, the use of smoked cigarettes by city birds may be an urban variation of an ancient adaptation.

Birds have long been known to line their nests with vegetation rich in compounds that drive away parasites.


After 20 minutes, the team found that devices with unsmoked butts had many more parasites attached to them than devices with smoked butts — which contain more nicotine as the cigarette smoke has passed through them. Indeed, in nests that contained bird eggs, traps with unsmoked butts caught on average more than twice as many parasites.

“It really makes me wonder: might these birds show a preference for cigarette brands high in nicotine? If they did, that might suggest this behaviour has truly evolved as an adaptive response to challenges from parasites,” says Timothy Mousseau, an ecologist at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

Nadia Bolz-Weber’s Twitter

Photo: Kaos

Sunday Morning: the breathtaking vulnerability of trees

“One of my prayers is to have a view of a tree as I die.

I’m always super sensitive to and feel a special affinity to trees and though I am still mourning the loss of “my” pepper tree in Silver Lake, since then I have been graced with a eucalyptus tree, several birds-of-paradise, and now olive trees, fan palms, and bougainvillea.

Lying in bed reading the other afternoon, I looked out the sliders and noticed the profound beauty, the breathtaking vulnerability of a spray of overhanging grapefruit-tree leaves.

You could make a whole life out of watching the light filter through leaves, the gentle flutter of leaves in the breeze, Christ’s ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.'”

– Heather King, from her Frames blog post

Photo credit: Photo © David Whyte July 2014: Summer Light: Arnecliffe Church Yard, Yorkshire.

Wednesday noon art break: trees and cows


The best part of July 4th for me is always the Monona Art Fair in the Park. This year I purchased the above print from Tania Richley for my cubicle at work. It came with this quote:

Look to the Earth
And to the Skies
For in that which can be seen Without
Can true knowledge come
Of unseen mysteries that lie Within
To you who would be wise.

~ Kenneth Meadows

I know hump day is all about the camel, but I can’t resist posting this cow photo of hers. There is something gentle and soothing about cows. Somewhat ironically, my most frequent exposure to mooing cows was not when I lived in rural Stoughton, but during my senior year of college at UW-Madison when I lived in an apartment on Old University Avenue. The barn with the cows was across the way and I loved hearing the cows moo. It’s a good de-stressor.


A place where you can go and be

In a word,
she is empty,
untouched with inescapable beauty.
She is pure,
free from advertisement
and the need of distraction.
Within the slips of her land
there are fallen rocks still asleep
where they originally made their bed.
Her livestock craw without concern of time or where to go.
They call the ground home without need for a door.
No lock, or key.
Waterfalls find their way where ever needed,
Down the sides of the mountains green and
across the dirt paths
carved by wandering admirers.
The ground, this home, smells so rich.
The soil doesn’t stick or crumble,
it molds to the hand as the hand becomes one with the land.
For she is kind.
She is genuine.
We pilgrims come here to pay our respects,
And she repays us with peace.
And once here, you are home,
you find silence,
a glimpse of heaven,
A place where you can go and be.

~Go, and Be from Josh Brine

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