MARCH 5, 2018

Restoration Journal

“It was not yet March, and the fen at the edge of Silver Lake was still frozen, but the warm air and the brilliant rays of the sun and the absence of motion gave the impression of a lazy Sunday afternoon in midsummer.” – Paul Gruchow, from Journal of a Prairie Year


Day’s work party at the Arboretum to gather at the Juniper Knoll, an old Oak savannah, now east of the service road F4, but put into cultivation following settlement, and then replanted in 1932 with common, horizontal, and eastern red juniper, tended to as small cedar glade, located near the edge of Teal pond. Tools needed: Loppers, saws, hand pruners, shovels, gloves, safety glasses, tarp for hauling out the vines of bittersweet.

Old tool shack   same one as Leopold sat

buckets now lopper handles and folding saws

or shovel or two to pierce the field ice,

warm the water for later, tea or cocoa

and a little box of chocolate chip cookies,

fill the old work truck flatbed slam the gate.

                                            Quick glance – Longenecker

                                            out there just past the work

                                            garages a lake of shimmering

                                            ice snow all melt then frozen

and we wonder if this is such a good idea

truck has nothing to grip on service road

work party walks over a thousand little holes

and mini-hillocks of hard ice at temp 32 –

but then we see as we pass this side of the knoll

that this is the very thing itself, trail rises, Big Bluestem

leaning, brown, catching the filtered sun,

this is the walk of those, all of us, who need it,

get our hands on those tools and start combing

that wild old pocket of cedar glade and get down

on the knees frozen matt of old leaves to inspect

whether its honeysuckle, sumac, dogwood, bittersweet

easy enough to see – creeps up along anything,

like strands of twine and certainly loves its victims.


If you find a print with four toes on both the front

and back feet, then an animal from either the dog

or cat family has been there. In Wisconsin this would

include a coyote, fox, wolf or even a domestic dog.

If you find a print with four toes on the front foot

and five toes on back, you have found a rodent track

                                         I read outloud

Hasn’t been just us–

where the laid down dead logs

meet at a shallow hole

frozen over and holds

at the base of its tub

the petrified jewels of oak leaves,

logs scaled by layers

of fungi looks like fine metal

art been there working

itself out since the Ho-Chunk

here wondering Savannah,

then the cattle had come,

dug it out planed something

likely didn’t belong in stumps.


                                 Ghosts of both, we each

                                 say, here I am

                                 stack brush 6-8 feet in length

                                 along the side of F4

                                 Samsara, peace, struggle


                                 We’ll let the sun

                                  in here again


                                 someone hums

for Gary Snyder