Monday, March 20, 2017

Somber skies and solitude at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center

View of the lake from the bluff-top observation tower
Snow lingers on north-facing slopes and the shadowy parts of the forest. Out in the open the meadows and prairies are mostly bare and brown. It is that time of the year when the land is lusterless. If you pay close attention, there are small signs of spring here and there. Pussy willow catkins have fuzzed out and there are a few more bird calls than I've been hearing on my winter walks. But, especially on this overcast day, the mood is somber.

Pussy willow catkins

On this moody Saturday morning at the cusp of spring there are a half-dozen or so cars in the parking lot of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. But the great room of the main building is quieter than usual. As I walk the trails I see surprisingly few people. I am having a blast, however. I love the solitude. And the monochromatic landscape offers up enough photographic opportunities to satisfy my appetite. Here is what I found.

A log tepee within sight of the main building.

The tracks of a pair of geese leading into a large puddle of melting snow.

As if herding together, intermingled tracks of geese, humans and a couple of other creatures.

Birches in one of the ravines.

Ice shrinking to the edges of the ponds and wetlands.

Shriveled leaves still clinging to branches, looking so out of place that I was reminded of the Cornelia Parker sculpture of suspended chunks of chalk at the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Many dead trunks and limbs that have provided a feast for the woodpeckers.

Flattened reeds, like a natural tapestry, between the bluff and the beach.

Sand embedded in curiously shaped ice formations at the base of beachfront shrubbery.

A single fellow traveler enjoying the solitude of the urban wilderness.