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.

Trees As Sanctuary – A Poem

Looking at the Past

Tree Sanctuary © 2014 Bo Mackison

Trees are sanctuaries. Whoever knows how to speak to them, whoever knows how to listen to them, can learn the truth. They do not preach learning and precepts, they preach undeterred by particulars, the ancient law of life. ~ Herman Hesse

Trees As Sanctuary

1806, The People Build the Church

They press brick, kiln lime, raise walls, lay roofing,
paint murals, sculpt sacred ornamentation, build niches for the statues of the Saints.
They clear land, build fences, plant corn and wheat,
and from the priests’ cache of pods and seeds, they plant and then they tend
fruit orchards, nut trees, olive groves.
They learn the missionaries’ way.
They marry, raise children, care for their sick, weep for their dying, bury their dead.

1827, Weary, Ill, and Wary of Raiding Enemies

Many of the People wrap statuary in leathery strips of yucca,
bundled saints now cradled like newborn babes
protected from summer’s heat, shifting winds, monsoon storms,
from damage to their wooden limbs or painted robes or eyes of porcelain marbles.
The People walk north, leave the Tumacácori Mountains,
settle in a valley to the North, build another mission, settle in.

1848, Tumacácori Mission, Deserted in the Desert

No missionary priest leads his people crucifix in hand,
his carved cross held high, his silhouette a contrast to this blue bowl of sky.
No one gives signal to the last few of the Desert People
who abandon their homes, possessions, crops;
abandon their church, its stacks of brick adobe
with the limestone wash, white like angels’ wings;
now the church is pale apparition towering midst desert grasses, agave, mesquite
standing in the foreground of the mountains.

2016, A View through the Window

Open to the cool desert nights,
no roof for protection, no doors.
Only ruins remain and ruins they shall remain.
Window remnants frame the cottonwoods, green and tall,
that line the Santa Cruz River.

Spellbound, I walk to the water,
leafy branches arch a roof above my head,
provide spongy leaf-carpet for my weary feet.
Wisps of white cotton fluff, seeds of the future drift on a southwest breeze.

Trees as sanctuary.


Posting a desert-related poem each day in April, National Poetry Month. Updated poems from my blog archives, new poems written as sacred practice, and selected, favorite poems from other poets.

Trees and the Hawaiian Shore – Still Walking Waikiki


In real time we only stayed two nights near Waikiki. Being first timers to Hawaii, two flights from the middle of the mainland to Honolulu seemed daunting. We wanted to enjoy a warm up before boarding the cruise ship for the trip’s main act. A good decision – time to relax, see a bit of Oahu. And figure out just what time it really was – body clock or island time?

Strolling the shores of Waikiki, without any time constraints or places we had to be, was a joy. I spent most of my waking hours walking along the ocean, never tiring of the ceaseless surf, the wild cloud formations as the trade winds stirred the currents, water and sea.


We do not have palm trees in Wisconsin, unless visiting one of the under a glass dome botanical gardens. I love trees of any kind. Palms took their rightful place on my ‘tree love list’. Love these palms, the trunks swaying like dancers, the leaves whistling as the winds slide through the foliage.


Most of the coastlines I have walked consisted of long stretches of sandy dunes or rocky beach. Not trees. But on this stretch trees hugged the sandy shores.


Kapiolani Park provided a variety of seating options. Grassy, sandy, or under a branch woven pavilion. Always a shady place for respite from the sun, if and when desired.


Still, the city of Honolulu was never far from sight. A photo of a palm tree’s shadow leaning from sand to water also captured the city in the background.

I think I’m ready to move on, board the cruise ship and explore a few more islands. Amazing stuff coming up. Promise!

Golden Grasses Under Snow Covered Branches

Tree in Olbrich

What do the trees know?
To bend when all the wild winds blow.
Roots are deep and time is slow.
All we grasp we must let go.

~Joyce Sidman

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.