Sunday, December 29, 2013

Into white: A photographic circuit of the Milwaukee County Grounds

A recent snowfall drew me outside and, not wanting to drive in it, I went for a long walk in one of my favorite haunts, the County Grounds. I was amazed, not by the beauty of the landscape, which long experience has continually reaffirmed, but by how many people there were out there also enjoying it. More often than not, upon seeing me with my camera and tripod, I would hear the question repeated nearly verbatim: "Have you gotten any good pictures?" They are always well-intentioned but the implications seemed to be that it would be hard to miss and that I would be an incompetent fool not to have done so. I always smile and say something noncommittal like "I believe I might have."

One particularly enthusiastic fellow, after the inevitable question, added "There are some good ones over there," pointing up the hill where I was headed. As if photographs were simply out there like ripe apples waiting to be picked from the trees. And, indeed, I believe I did get a few good ones, at least good enough to share. Enjoy!

Approaching the east detention basin from Hoyt Park.

Revelers sledding on the steeply sloped berm of the east basin.

Two roads diverged in a wood and I..., I took the one without tire tracks making troughs in the deep snow.

Dog walkers on one of the popular trails through the woods behind Ronald McDonald House.

The endangered oak savanna.

The Grove. This copse is behind the We Energies power plant and was the inspiration for the winter solstice story I wrote for Urban Wilderness: Exploring a Metropolitan Watershed.

Port-a-potty. This is also behind the power plant, at the edge of a parking lot between the copse and the plant.

UWM's Accelerator building on the Innovation Park campus, enclosed but still under construction.

An icy tree in front of the ABB building, also under construction at Innovation Park. One of the many newly planted trees along Discovery Parkway.

The Eschweiler complex, visible through the steel pilings that are being driven along Watertown Plank Road to support the new interchange under construction there.

A view towards the We Energies power plant and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex from the recently re-landscaped County Grounds park.

Children's Hospital is just visible through the windrow of oaks along Swan Boulevard next to the east detention basin.

I hope I was able to pick a few good apples, though some were probably not what my fellow travelers that day had in mind. Thoreau said, "The perception of beauty is a moral test." This is ever true in the urban wilderness and all the more reason to keep the little of it we have left to us.

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