Foggy, then Sunlight at Riveredge Nature Center

Yesterday it was a pretty foggy morning at Riveredge Nature Center…

but then the sun came out for some pretty nice shots of light, shadows, and residual fog. Click the arrow to see a few more.

 

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Tamarack Colors Are In-Season

Tamaracks offer a fantastic luminescence when struck by the afternoon sun. The nature of lovely fall trees in Wisconsin.

Thinking About Photographs and Creative Projects

I spent yesterday morning taking pictures of explorer Eric Larsen at Riveredge Nature Center. Due to climate change, he’ll likely be the last person to ski to the North Pole. That’s a strange feeling, sharing company with someone who will be the last to do something – and he’s not old. Right now, Eric is currently traversing Wisconsin via foot, bike, and kayak, while raising funds for Riveredge summer camps, a venture called WisconsATHON.

I took the above picture as Eric was getting his equipment together to begin paddling the Milwaukee River. In the morning I took photos of Eric on his bike, with him art directing where I should be located, which angle, what to focus on, the differences between placement due to light and shadow, et cetera. This was a really interesting experience, as he spends a lot of time setting up his own shots when he’s out solo exploring. I appreciated hearing the reasons behind his choices.

I’m not a photographer, but I would say I dabble, mainly to provide visual support for my words. As a person who sees stories and ideas and tries to render them, one really separates genres to their own peril. We have so many storytelling options available: words, pictures, audio, video, that they can all work in concert if done well. That’s part of the reason I consider myself a multimedia journalist, although I often tell people I’m a writer for sake of simplicity.

I mentioned to Eric my disappointment that a publication decided to pass on some of my researched fact-based poems. These pieces are a combination of journalism and poetry – not the familiar confessionalist works consumed by a writer’s feelings. The response was the usual “Oh it’s poetry and we don’t publish poetry – unless you’re a poet laureate.”

I’m not surprised, getting anyone to read poetry is never-ending missionary work – so many people have a lifelong aversion due to the reading they were assigned in high school. Also, in creating work that straddles genres, many people will not immediately join you for the ride. Humans seem to like placing things into neat compartments, classifications. Until something becomes its own genre, its own compartment, many people don’t know what to do with something.

“The only thing better than a ‘no’ is a ‘yes,” said Eric. “With a ‘no’ at least you can move on to the next thing.”

A great point, a “no” means the waiting is done. On to the next.

Highlights from the SEJ Conference

This past week I was fortunate to receive a scholarship to attend the annual Society of Environmental Journalists Conference, which took place in Flint, Michigan this year. Thanks to the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research for offering scholarships to college students in the region.

Participants took part in educational seminars, brainstorming sessions, spoke with scientists, and acquainted other colleagues, editors, and publishers in the field. Tours were offered throughout the region, and I elected to visit the Pigeon River Country State Park. We saw three bull elk – a first for me!

In Downtown Flint, the Mott Foundation Building stands as essentially a cathedral of Art Deco design.

I walked around a little and explored the immediate surroundings. Some parts of the city still have an eerie ghost town vibe. I didn’t take this sign up on the invitation to walk in.

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WALK-INS. Flint, Michigan.

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Another shot from the Pigeon River Country. The Michigan woods are quite lovely in fall.

Prairie Crayfish at Schlitz Audubon

Recent storms have allowed Schlitz Audubon staff to see a species not often observed on our land, the Prairie Crayfish (Procambarus gracilus). Read here about this interesting native wildlife species at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, often hiding in burrows just below our feet in the prairie.

Mystery Rodent Scurrying Near the Milwaukee River

Near the Milwaukee River, we saw what I first thought was a Muskrat, my son thought was a baby Beaver.

It turned out to be a Groundhog, also called a Woodchuck. Woodchuck babes are called “chucklings.” These large rodents are native to the area, and if you’re not worried about holes in your lawn, they’re quite fun to watch.

Community Gardens: A Poem About Plants in Nature

I was at work the other day, asking about planting strategies with a very experienced land management specialist. He mentioned something, almost as an afterthought, about how forbs need root competition to flourish long-term. Otherwise they grow too large and collapse on themselves. I found this interesting and ended up writing a poem about it. We published it on our Blog at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. It’s pretty fantastic that I’ve got a job where I’m invited to write poetry about nature.

Go here to read Community Gardens, a poem about how plants depend on one another.