Aztalan: The View from Outside the Wall
A fortified city stood on the west bank of the Crawfish River nine centuries ago. Adobe-like walls – upright wood posts, plastered with clay – surrounded tiered platform mounds, a community plaza, and the dwellings of some four hundred people. The homes, like the fortifications, were built with what the river provided: woven willow branches sealed and bound together by the Crawfish River’s clay. Hardened clay also covered at least one of the great mound structures.
When the sun shone brightly, as it did when I visited the Crawfish River yesterday, how the city must have gleamed! Continue reading
The Crawfish River
I walked down the Glacial-Drumlin trail in south-central Wisconsin today to the old railroad bridge that crosses the Crawfish River. It’s a view that I’ve seen countless times over the years while training for marathons, birdwatching, or just taking a stroll. But for all the times I’ve looked at the river from that bridge, I realized today how little I have seen.
There are many ways of knowing a place. One way is to see it repeatedly over an extended period of time, observing changes Continue reading
Paddling the Baraboo River
To really experience a river, there’s no substitute for floating it in a canoe. Slipping through the water, a paddler really participates with the stream, negotiating bends, feeling the current, and listening to the trickle of all the rivulets as they enter and feed the river.
A few days ago my husband Mark and I paddled a stretch of the Baraboo River from Union Center, where the river’s west branch joins its main stem, to a landing near the Sauk County line. In this segment, the Baraboo’s channel arcs and doubles back on itself like a watery labyrinth. In general, the river flows east-southeast, but for a few relaxing hours, we could only guess at our direction by the position of the sun. Continue reading
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.