An old forest

One of the last intact maple-basswood forest in Milwaukee county was about to be made into a parking place for trucks back in 1972. The County bought it and preserved it as Cudahy Nature Preserve. It is only around 40 acres, but it had managed to avoid the ax for a couple hundred years, so it had the trees, soils and some natural communities intact.
I started to go out there before it was a park. I have a relationship with it long term. I went out there and walked around the day after my mother died in 1972. My cousin Ray Karshna used to live across the street, so I would visit him and then look in on the forest. It is thick and dark. Deep shade trees like maples and basswood are dominant. There are some oaks, but mostly near the edges. Milwaukee is a very interesting ecological region. The range of beech trees extends only about a mile inland from Lake Michigan. The Cudahy Forest is just a little too far inland.

My other pictures show Lake Michigan at Grant Park. And the sugar maple brewery on Lincoln Avenue. Interestingly, the logo shows the seeds of a Norway maple, not a sugar maple.

Bur oak

Bur oaks are characteristic of “oak openings” or areas of oak mixed with grasslands. The famous naturalist Aldo Leopold wrote about them in “Sand County Almanac.” They are robust against fire, which is one of the ways they survive. They grow slowly. Some get pretty big; others just get old but stay small.

There are two bur oaks that I know “personally.” One is at Dover Street School and the other in Humboldt Park. Both are big and old. They were old when I was young. The first pictures is at Dover. I played under it when I was in kindergarten. It used to be surrounded by asphalt, which evidently did it no harm. Now it has grass. The other one is in Humboldt Park. I admired it since I was young, although not as long as the one at Dover St.

The next picture are honey locusts along Pine Avenue. They were planted in the 1970s. They take a very long time to grow, but they keep on going and get pretty big. The last picture is a big old cottonwood at Grant Park. I like cottonwoods. They grow fast and don’t live long (for a tree) but they are good early succession trees.

The old house

Finally getting around to posting from my trip to Milwaukee a couple weeks ago. My sister did a better job of posting some of the social stuff.

My posts are mostly about changes with trees, so please feel free not to read more. I am interested in changes and trees. I am surprised sometimes how fast and sometimes how slow things change.

Let me start with my old house on Dover Street and the trees. So you can see how fast they grow, or not. It is only with my advanced age that I get some perspective on tree. The big trees are not always the oldest ones. And some get to a particular size and then just kind of stay that way.

The first picture is a silver maple. My uncle Ray Karshna planted it 1967. He dug it out of the bushes at his house. I was a volunteer. The maple grew fast and then mostly stalled.
Next is my basswood tree. I planted that in 1972.  I brought it home from the woods on College Avenue, carried it in a plastic bad riding my bike.   I pruned it and guided it over the wires and now it is pretty robust.

The horse chestnut on the hill is from 1966. I grew it from a chestnut that year.
Finally, we have the crimson Norway maples. They were planted in 1973 by the city of Milwaukee.

Warnimont Park by the Lake

Natural succession is the way that the ecology changes over time. The textbooks usually take it from an open field or a pond to a forest. You can see natural succession in Warnimont Park in Cudahy. Around 1970, the park was mostly grass. I started to run down there about that time.  I remember there were lots of thirteen-lined ground squirrels. They stopped mowing and soon wildflowers moved in, followed by pioneer trees Today, large parts are young forest. I have watched the evolution over the past 45 years.

I do wonder a bit about the future here. In SE Wisconsin, green ash are among the most important pioneer trees. With the emerald ash borer, I wonder what will happen.

The first picture is still mostly meadow I think they cut it occasionally. The second shows the running/bike path with young forest. That used to be all grass. Next is a grove of black walnut. They planted those in the 1980s. Last is one of the bluffs. If you look closely, you will see all the dragon flies.  The sky was full of them.  They are generally beneficial.

Milwaukee, August 2015

Jake and I had a “traditional” day: breakfast at George Webb’s, a look at our old house, visited Mrs. Gebhardt, a stop at (formerly) Medusa, and lunch at the Cousins on KK. Added a new tradition: the beer garden at Humboldt Park. I didn’t get to drive the convertible he rented but we had perfect weather to enjoy it. Later with Greg, Dorothy, Mary and Dick, had dinner at Café Central in Bay View. Fun day and great weather.

Last days at Smithsonian

My last day at Smithsonian. I went to HST first for a couple of appointments and then road my bike over to Smithsonian. I took the long way, i.e. went around Hains Point. It is a near perfect place to ride a bike, with a smooth road surface and a flat terrain.

I used to run down there, especially when I was studying Norwegian, since I lived nearby. I used to memorize lines and then repeat them, over and over, out loud, as I ran along. I don’t doubt people thought I was nuts. But language learning is a physical process. It is not enough for your brain to know it; your mouth has to be able to make the sounds w/o too much trouble and there is no substitute for repeating. It is like knowing how to ride a bike and really being able to ride a bike.

When I passed my language test and did my run w/o the need to talk to myself in Norwegian. I felt strangely empty, lonely, as I trudged along in silence.

A convenient way of going from Hains Point to Smithsonian is across the bridge to L’Enfant Plaza. My river picture shows new developments along the river. They are building a wharf complex of restaurants and shops.

L’Enfant Plaza was built in the 1960s as part of urban renewal and is evidence that bad architecture was the worldwide norm during the 1950s and 1960s and not only in benighted places in Eastern Europe. We forgot how to build pleasant buildings during that period.

My last picture is unrelated to the others. It shows the farmer’s market near Mariza’s house in Baltimore. It is a nice touch. Her neighborhood still has some crime, but there are lots of good developments too.