Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cudahy Nature Preserve bursting with spring wildflowers

Where it began at the parking area the upland trail led me through a woods still disappointingly barren. But warm sun shone through the leafless canopy and I was happy just to be out and feeling it on my face. Besides, I had it on good authority that there was a treasure of wildflowers hiding somewhere in this place. I strolled on.

When the land and the trail dipped into a small valley I discovered the promised treasure. Small white flowers--trout lillies, I later learned--spread across the valley floor like a carpet of green with white flecks. Where a thin stream of black water trickled under a plank bridge there were luxuriant bouquets of marsh marigold.

Deeper in the woods, where the soil was moist, a thick, rich stew of skunk cabbage gave the forest floor an intensely green buoyancy. A few of the trees in the under-story were just budding out, adding a complimentary reds to the otherwise somber palette of spring. I was exploring the Cudahy Nature Preserve for the first time, thanks to the recommendation of Brian Russart, Natural Areas Coordinator at the Milwaukee County Parks Department.

Here are a few shots that I took while I wandered, rapt and enchanted in the urban wilderness.

Trout lillies carpet the forest floor
Vole-eye view of trout lillies
Field of skunk cabbage
Skunk cabbage
Field of skunk cabbage
Marsh marigolds in wetland
Upland woods
Budding trees
Purple cress
Oh, I suppose I should mention the noise. Every few minutes I was subjected to the tremendous roar of jet engines as an airliner began its acceleration towards liftoff from Mitchell Field. The end of the north-south runway is right next to the park. Between flights it was very peaceful.

Flight path, adjacent to the preserve

To see more photos of Milwaukee's parks and natural areas, go to my Flickr album.

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