Evening Phenology, Owen Conservation Park in Madison Wisconsin



Trail Through Virginia Bluebells ©2016 Bo Mackison

May 5, 2016

Owen Conservation Park, west side of Madison, Wisconsin

Start: 6:00 p.m. (sunset 8:04 p.m.)
sunny 68˚F
wind 5 mph NW
barometric pressure 30.00
humidity 29%

In the woods:

Virginia bluebell, in full bloom along the woodland trail.
False solomon seal emerging
Wood anemone in bloom, moderate show
Woodpeckers, species unknown (lots of rat-a-ta-a-tatting high in the hardwoods)
Fiddle heads, many fully opened, common in open wooded areas.
Honeysuckle, beginning to flower
Robins, common
Lesser periwinkle (vinca) in full bloom, common
Dutchman’s breeches, only a few still blooming


Forest of Bloodroot ©2016 Bo Mackison

Bloodroot, emerging foliage, common in the under-story.

Yellow bellwort, bloom done
Columbine emerging
Creeping charlie (ground ivy, spreading mint) in dense bloom, disturbed ground near trail
Wild geranium (potted geranium) profuse bloom, common
Common blue violets (wood violet, wooly blue violet) in bloom, profuse
Trillium, Grandiflora, two bunches
Wood sorrel
Small white violets, uncommon


Tree Canopy ©2016 Bo Mackison

White oaks, leaves emerging; Red maples, silver maples, leafing.

Arrow-leaved violet, uncommon
Garlic mustard in bloom (invasive weed threat)
Golden alexanders, full bloom
May apples, emerging foliage, no bloom.
Sumac, 6 ft high “sticks” with emerging red leaves
Maple tree shoots, six inches high, cover the forest floor.
Crabapple trees, several varieties, in moderate-full bloom


6:35 p.m.
64˚F sunny, few high clouds to the south
wind 5 mph NW
humidity 28%


Twice a week phenology reports in woodland; once a week reports from prairie and pond. Owen Conservation Park, Madison Wisconsin

Phenology is the study of plant and animals and their cycles influenced by climate and seasonal change, i.e., birds nesting/migrating,  flowers blooming, trees leafing.

Fog in the Forest – A Blessing

Pine Forest in Shroud

Pine Forest in Shroud © 2014 Bo Mackison

Nothing stands in isolation.
Experiences, stories, a life time of truths.

Traveling in a forest in fog. Water droplets suspended in the atmosphere, my vision
obscured as I peer fiercely through the mist. To no avail. Not a glimmer or a ghost.

Moisture permeates the dried, the desiccated. Ragged and spent.

A pulpy mix of leaf litter, feathers, tiny skeletons and detritus.
Life and death and the in-between takes on many forms.

A shudder up my spine, bone to bone. And I recall
my grandmother’s shivery words under similar circumstances

“Someone walkin’ over my grave.” She’d shake her head, eyes closed,
and chew her cracked lip. Back away from trouble.

I hold out my bare hands in supplication. Help me.
The trees shiver in winter’s wind.

Water drops, sanctified in the sodden oak leaves,
sprinkle upon my bare head and I continue my passage through.

The Mighty Oak

Owen Park

Oak Tree ©2012 Bo Mackison

In creating, the only hard thing is to begin: a grass blade’s no easier to make than an oak. ~ James Russell Lowell

I returned from a photography conference a week ago. The conference was all that I had expected, and more. The workshops were on presentation techniques and the creation of fine art pieces. There was a printing symposium and narratives from photographers who set their focus on long-term creative goals and who, after years of planning and work, realized completed art. There were gallery walks, visiting photography galleries in the Loop. And a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Photography – cutting edge works of photographic based art.

I came home with my head filled with new ideas, new techniques, and a view of a world I had barely known existed. During my first week back home, I thought about the workshops, re-copied some of my illegible notes, checked out websites and blogs from several recommended lists from various workshop leaders. I began to dream of big projects, new paths to follow, finished photography projects that were all shiny and new and so promising.

Then, the everyday world crept back in. There were house shoots to schedule for a bread and breakfast company I do contract work for. There was an art festival to get ready for – check inventory, make out orders for frame parts and glass, print some of my newer photographs for framing. There was Hurricane Sandy to keep an eye on, keeping a long distance watch on my people on the East Coast and inland.

And those dreams that were so vivid and exciting became less so in the responsibilities of the every day.

Except. I am not going to relegate the thrill of the new to a week of living it, and then a week of dreaming about it. If I want to keep the new ideas awake in my head, if I want to try some new creative techniques, if I want to start a long-term project with a completion date, then I need to schedule time on a consistent basis.

And what is this time for? It is time to consider, investigate, dream. To experiment, study, make mistakes, and do again. To live and work on my dream while doing the everyday thing, too.

I have dreams. The dreams are re-forming into goals with baby steps. The baby steps will turn into big steps, and occasional leaps. I have scheduled time into my daily calendar.

This is the time to say yes to big ideas, new ideas, and see where they lead…


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She is holding tightly onto new dreams and hopes and goals, while wondering how far she can go…

Jack’s Back

Jack in the Pulpit © 2010 Bo Mackison

Jack in the Pulpit © 2010 Bo Mackison

Spring is for real when I can walk in the woodlands and see the first wildflowers in abundance. Today on my Sunday hike I counted thousands of trout lilies, a few buttercups, and hundreds of patches of sweet violets, Confederate violets and white violets. I only saw one Jack in the Pulpit. It’s a bit early for the Jacks, but they’ll be covering the woodland floor in another week.

I love these early spring wildflowers.

Fungi on the Forest Floor

Fungi on the Forest Floor

Fungi on the Forest Floor © 2008

These fungi are cool, but I tell you. I am terrible when it comes to trying to identify these things, and fungi are not things you want to mis-identify, so I won’t even try.

I do remember copying this information awhile ago – information about fungi in general that I found fascinating. This is what I saved from one who is more expert than I am:

“Recent DNA analysis indicates that fungi are closer related to animals than to plants. Fungi are so peculiar that they are regarded as neither plant nor animal, but rather their own thing. The divergence of animals and fungi has been estimated as taking place some 965 millions of years ago.”

If you’d like a general introduction to the world of fungi you can visit the fungus pages at www.backyardnature.net/2fungi.htm