An Interlude in Travel; Expounding on Spring in Wisconsin

Silver Drift Ornamental Crabapple

Silver Drift Crabapple © 2013 Bo Mackison

There are bugs, no-see-ums, in Wisconsin.
There are crab apple trees so heavy with white blossoms you know they are really
floral bouquets gently swaying on the earth, in Wisconsin.

There are skies dense with clouds, white, gray, pink, puffy, dense, beribboned, in Wisconsin.
The red maple stands tall, branches widespread, deep in greening leaves, sturdy, in Wisconsin.
There are tiny bugs that buzz about my ears, in Wisconsin.

The rain pounds the earth, sheets of water, and thunder snap crackles,
The rain barrel is overflowing, in Wisconsin.
Gnats swarm in my eyes, follow me in a haze of flight as I dodge and swat, in Wisconsin.

The yard is green, abundantly so, not cultivated,
we chuck the hang tags from the pesticide companies,
greens of clover, purple and white violets, and wildly growing,
rampant spreads of escape-artist mint.
I pick the mint sometimes, the runners squirm loose from the earth with a tug, in Wisconsin.

The paper birch is pregnant with leaves, they drag upon the grassy understory, hide the neighbor’s yard from view, in Wisconsin.
Its bark once pale and baby skin smooth those many years ago
when we dug a hole and set it in the black earth,
the bark’s now rough and deeply textured, full of character like its caretakers, in Wisconsin.

The moss creeps between the flagstone, a tiny community for ants and beetles,
littered with maple spinners and bits of dried purple scent
from the overhanging lilac, in Wisconsin.

Two ashes we planted a quarter century ago began as sticks,
each with a lesser god’s headdress of leaf, and now
they rise taller than our two-story home, in Wisconsin.

The hummingbird feeder has fresh nectar, but the sighting of a hummer
is a rare treat, in Wisconsin.

The perennial garden we planned, painstakingly mapping color and height,
bloom time and sequence, it weathered the harsh winter with fair results, in Wisconsin.
The pink spikes of the coral bells wave two feet above its fluff of purple leaves,
but nothing else is yet in bud. There are spaces now for three or four new sets of plants.
The ornamental grasses and lavender were lost to winter’s brutal cold, in Wisconsin.

I dawdled this year,
unwilling to leave Arizona for the greener spaces, of Wisconsin.

There was work to finish, meetings to attend, and the lure of the desert remained strong.
I watched the saguaros bloom. I lingered.

I wasn’t ready to depart, and then I was.

Fate had other plans. A disabled car 300 miles down the road
and an engine overhaul, delayed parts,
led to weeks of side adventures into red rock wilderness and the Grand Canyon.

When I return to get my car,
I’m told there is another week’s delay, it is the same day Slide Fire begins
scorching beloved Oak Canyon, and a pyrotechnic smoke show hovers over Flagstaff for days.

Fire, twenty miles distant, throws up orange walls of smoke to the south of town,
obliterates the San Francisco Peaks to the north. They stand, shrouded in gray.
And then a black looming cloud, reminiscent of sci-fi saucers, settles on this city of 70,000, and blots out the sun. We breathe through makeshift masks, in Arizona.

The blooms are late-coming this year as was I, to Wisconsin.
Respite from my travel, the lilacs and crab apples, the dogwoods and magnolias in flower.

The sandhill crane, squawking its rattly ka-roo-roo, flies over my home, in Wisconsin.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Spring is late to Wisconsin, it seems. Here, summer is in full force, we’ve had three 110+ degree days already. You sound deeply grateful for the weather change, though. And the cleaner air. The Slide Fire was started by someone tossing a cigarette out of a car.

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