Down by the Lake

Sister Chrissy & I walked around the old neighborhoods and parks today. It was a beautiful early fall day, cool with enough wind to keep the bugs confused. Yesterday was not so good. It was a little damp and cool.  I went running yesterday along the bike trail in Warnimont and it was a bit too cool. But today was just right.

The parks near the lake really are pretty. My favorite is probably Grant Park. You see the Lake from there in the picture. 

We walked down to the Lake along the “Seven Bridges Trail”.  I have walked and run down there hundreds of times, but I only found out today that it is called the Seven Bridges Trail. I don’t know if they can still call it that, however.  One of the big bridges is gone, washed out.

The trail was put into its present form by the WPA and CCC. They built the walls and planted some of the more exotic trees.  One of the walls is pictured above. The trail endures because it is simple. The problem with projects today that they try to get too complex.  We cannot do lots of things today because we demand too much.  This simple piled rock walls and trails work as well today as they did a long lifetime ago.  Except for the bridge, of course.

After Grant Park and after I dropped Chrissy off, I wandered over to Humboldt Park. That is my “home park” and the one I know in the longest detail. The pond in the picture above used to be very tamed and mowed.  They used to rent row boats. Now it is more like a wetland. I think I like the new thing better, but I do miss the old one. 

The new pond is full of geese, which are pretty much everywhere these days anyway.The old pond was home mostly to ducks. I think the geese have driven the ducks off.  The geese are bigger and much more aggressive.  I remember that geese used to be kind of rare. Not any more. They still are fun to watch, although it gets a little annoying always to be stepping in the ubiquitous goose crap.

Along side is an old bur oak tree.I used to like to come and look at those trees and I still do. I have no idea how old it is, except that it was already big and old when as far back as I can remember.  I noticed this particular specimen in 1972, when I was learning tree identification. I don’t think it has gotten much bigger in those nearly forty years.  I guess once it gets to a certain size, it grows much more slowly. Some of the branches seem to be dying back. That would concern me more if I didn’t remember that some of the branches were dying back forty years ago. I think that is just the way a mature bur oak is. Bur oaks seem to grow slow. Sometimes they get to be very big, like the one in the picture, but often they are only medium sized or even scrubby. I don’t think it is genetic variation, probably has more to do with the quality and depth of the soils. In the thinner soils, they form “oak openings” with mature trees looking sort of miniature.

Milwaukee’s parks are its treasure. There are lots of them and they are often tied together. It gives everybody in the city the chance to feel like he is in the country.  If you look at the pond above, you can imagine that you are in some far away marsh, of course you can hear the city sounds and see the cars if you turn around, but the feeling is still nice.