Thursday, October 20, 2016

Greenfield Park: A walk in the woods

With apologies to T. S. Eliot:

October is the coolest month, breeding
asters out of the dying land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
bright colors with cold autumn nights.
Winter will make us shiver, cover
Earth in forgetful snow, but today
resilient life and exuberant canopies!*

I’ve always loved October. Indian Summers and autumn colors enable me to put off the threat of winter for the time being. So far this October has been everything I’ve always loved about it.

Last year I was away from Milwaukee during the entire month of October. While I’m not complaining about my time in foreign places—I feel fortunate to be able to travel—I did vow to remain in Milwaukee this year and take in the colors. In fact, I’ve been out enjoying Milwaukee’s parks and the changing colors so often that I’m finding it hard to keep up with my excursions in my blog. Milwaukee and my mood are equally far from Eliot's "Waste Land."

So, here is one of my recent adventures, in Greenfield Park. Just photos:

To see many more photos from many more of Milwaukee's parks go to my Flickr album.

*Adapted from the opening passage of The Waste Land, by T. S. Eliot:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Hiking Havenwoods with Brew City Safari

Havenwoods, despite its designation as a State Forest, is largely prairie. On Saturday, when I joined up with Brew City Safari for the second week in a row, the sky was gloomy and the prairie mostly dull shades of umber. But the temperature was perfect and we had a lovely walk. I took a few photos, as is my habit, and even managed to find a few spots of color here and there.

At about our halfway point we came to a boardwalk that led us out over a wetland and pond.

There we were joined by Beth, one of the State Forest rangers. She had caught a number of small creatures, such as damselfly larvae.

They were placed into lab magnifiers so that we could observe their forms and movements.

The youngest member of our party grabbed one of the nets and promptly caught a healthy-sized tadpole, held here by Beth.

I also learned from Beth that this is called "panic grass" because of the way the stems diverge, kind of like a grassy fireworks display.

There are actually a few woodland areas in the state forest.

Brew City Safari has yet another hike scheduled for October 22 and then one in November. For more information go to their website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

China Lights a huge crowd pleaser at Boerner Botanical Gardens

I went to see China Lights last night and on a Tuesday there was a long line of cars creeping through Whitnall Park towards Boerner Botanical Gardens. After finally parking, the ticket lines were also long. (Buy your tickets in advance, online!) The show, billed as a "lantern festival," opened Oct. 1. I can only imagine what the weekend was like. The only time I've ever seen so many people at a Milwaukee County Park has been at O'Donnell for fireworks displays. China lights has a similar sense of spectacle.

The show is definitely a crowd pleaser and family-friendly. I wasn't all that interested in the animals and cartoon characters myself, but the multitudes of children who were there--including my granddaughter--definitely were.

The highlight for me was the woodland boardwalk with the overhead lanterns (above and below).

Here are a few more images I managed to catch in the dark.

According to John Dargle, Milwaukee County Parks Director, this is normally the slowest time of the garden season at Boerner Gardens. "With China Lights we now expect it to be the busiest season," he said. There have been an estimated 20,000 visitors to date, with two more weeks to go!

China Lights was organized by The Park People and proceeds will benefit them as well as Boerner Botanical Gardens.

For more information go to the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or to the China Lights website (where you can buy your tickets, good through Oct. 31.)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Riverkeeper leads Brew City Safari tour of Milwaukee River Greenway

The sun shone brightly on Saturday afternoon as I joined a throng gathering at Caesar's Pool Park for a hike on the Milwaukee River. Sponsored by Brew City Safari, the tour was led by guest guide, Cheryl Nenn, Milwaukee's Riverkeeper. I played leap-frog with the group to the halfway point at the Locust Street bridge. At that point I lost the group due to my penchant for wandering off to shoot photos. But I forged on. It was a perfect day for a hike in one of my favorite places. Here's my photo essay:

Riverkeeper Nenn leads group across the river at Caesar's Pool, site of the former North Avenue dam.

Seedling in protective tube planted by River Revitalization Foundation volunteers to restore native species along the West Bank Trail.

We saw several spots where bank stabilization work was underway to mitigate damage done by a storm in 2010.

The group circled the "graffiti wall" that adorns the ruins of a former bathing resort, when this part of the Milwaukee River Greenway was a lake impounded by the North Avenue dam.

This mattress, embedded in the tall riparian grasses, is evidence that people other than graffiti taggers frequent the spot.

On the east side of the river I enter the Rotary Arboretum and Riverside Park.

A series of cairn-like sculptures by Nic Thompkins now graces the park.

Planting native vegetation is also being done along the East Bank Trail. Here it is organized by the Urban Ecology Center, which is located in Riverside Park.

Evidence of beavers -- well, at least one beaver anyway!

One of a series of murals on the piers of the North Avenue Bridge.

And back again to Caesar's Pool Park. The next Brew City Safari hike is this coming Saturday, Oct. 15 at Havenwoods State Park. Check it out on their website.