I like to take my car to get the oil changed. It’s not just that the owners of the auto shop provide competent and friendly service within minutes of my home. As an added bonus, their shop is located right on the Elroy-Sparta Trail. So when the car goes in for service, I go out for a walk.
This morning I strolled a half-mile down the trail, listening to chickadees, an indigo bunting, and dozens of red-winged blackbirds. An ovenbird’s bouncy song rang out from the wooded bluff across the road. And in one of the trees growing on the bluff, on a branch that drooped over the highway, a vulture sat patiently, waiting for something to get clobbered. Continue reading
I’m away from home for a while, and here’s why. This is the place that taught me what it means to be a naturalist — and why it matters. My own photo gives barely a hint of what it’s like. To see more, type “Platte River sandhill cranes” in your search engine, and enjoy.
For those of us who are drawn to flowing water, a spring thaw holds special allure. I took a late-afternoon walk today through the village of Kendall, six miles upstream from my home. There the Baraboo River, barely three miles old, gushed noisily between its soggy banks. I could see how far the stream had risen by the number of saplings that were surrounded by rushing current.
Otter tracks on the ice.
In Sauk County, where Highway 33 follows the Baraboo River down a gentle incline toward the Wisconsin River, there’s a large wetland that I’ve often admired, especially on fine days when the water glistens in the sun. But whenever I’m driving down Highway 33, I’m on my way to…someplace. So I never stop.
Today, when the temperature rose toward thirty degrees and the sun peeked out from behind the clouds, I said to my husband, Mark, “Let’s take a walk.” Continue reading
When the thermometer read ten degrees a few days ago, I looked out the window and wondered what I had gotten myself into. I’d promised myself that, every day or two, I would take an exploratory walk…but that was when the temperature was thirty degrees warmer.
Ice forms on the Baraboo River.
Stuffing myself into my wool layers, I considered the likelihood that I would see little wildlife. Birds and small mammals would be huddled out of sight, trying to stay warm. There wasn’t even any snow on the ground to show animal tracks. So be it, I thought. I’ll go out and watch the river freeze.
Three miles from home, where Nutmeg Road crosses the Baraboo River, I pulled my hat down Continue reading