Sunday, November 21, 2010

Visiting the University of Wisconsin Arboretum in Madison

Prairie Oaks

Like autumn itself, the leaves are mostly gone. The wide prairie is a rich tapestry of sienna and ochre, interwoven with strands of white, red, and black. Here and there coarse gray tree trunks rise out of it all as if to emphasize its prairie flatness. Deep in the tall grasses, red berries provide adornment. The day is surprisingly mild, not a presage of winter at all. This close to the solstice the sun rises only in a low arc, but still it shines brightly, casting a golden glow on the browns all around. I bask in its warmth, open my jacket.

Clearing the understory

I am alone on the prairie, although I have to force my imagination to exclude the incessant din of traffic along the beltline in order to feel it. Others have gone before me: there are plenty of fresh footprints and some dog prints on the wide path. In amongst them I spy the twin curves of deer hoofs and something with sharper claws than a dog; probably raccoon. The exercise is more than worth the effort to shut out the noise of “civilization” flitting past, barely visible through the leafless screen of trees ahead. Once again I am transported into the healing balm of urban wilderness.


This instance brings me to remembrance of an old acquaintance with the UW Arboretum in Madison. I’ve been invited to give a reading to the Friends of the Arboretum, a most welcome opportunity. I arrive early, to prepare myself. I stay late to delay my return to that very same highway on my way home. Along the way I make some photographic offerings to share.

Wetland thicket

For more images from the Arboretum, go to my flickr page.

No comments:

Post a Comment