October 05, 2014

An Autumn Afternoon
At the Aldo Leopold Nature Center

nature center

Recently, I spent a few hours hiking around the grounds of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, in Monona, Wis., near Madison. The center is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

It was one of those days when I felt a strong desire to be outside, since I know those mild days are numbered now.

welcome

The nature center's mission is to provide hands-on programs which "... teach the student to see the land, to understand what he sees, and to enjoy what he understands," in the spirit of famed ecologist and naturalist Aldo Leopold. His book, "A Sand County Almanac," is a collection of essays advocating a "land ethic," or a responsible relationship between people and the land they inhabit.

learning

The nature center grounds are geared toward youth education, including admiration and respect for nature, and encouraging sustainability and stewardship of the land. Anyone of any age, though, can tour the Leopold trails--through woodlands, wetlands, prairies, and meadows.

Here's a brief wordless tour of the Monona campus in early autumn:

sneezeweed

monarda

rudbeckia

boneset

goldenrod

asters

grasshopper3

grasshopper2

grasshopper1

dragon

pond sign

near pond

pond

prairie sign

prairie2

grasses

finch

monarch3

monarch1

monarch4

monarch2

monarch5

honey bee

bumble

youngoak

crabapples

seeds2

seeds3

seeds1

seeds4

sumac2

sumac1

I hope you enjoyed the tour! It's a wonderful place to visit with children, with a friend, or just by yourself for a relaxing hike.

42 comments:

  1. Thanks for your wonderful post...and for sharing these evocative photos of a place I'd love to visit.

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    1. I do hope you'll have a chance to visit. It's fabulous. Thanks for your kind words! :)

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  2. Hi Beth, looks like you spent a fabulous autumn day at the Aldo Leopold Nature Center! I enjoyed looking at your photos, especially the lavender colored asters and the seed images. Hope you get some more warm, mild autumn days to enjoy! Warm regards,
    Christina

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    1. Thanks, Christina! Our warm days are numbered this fall, which makes them even more precious. I know winter is just around the corner, but I'm trying to enjoy the mild days before they're gone.

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  3. Yes, I enjoyed the tour, especially the monarchs. Your photo of the weeping willow near the pond looks like an impressionistic painting!

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    1. The Willow scene looked like an impressionistic painting in real life, too. The combination of the big Willow, the paths, the flowering plants, and the nearby pond make it a special spot. Thanks!

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  4. Thank you for this virtual tour. Love to see so many kind of interesting plants from all over the world. The purple aster is so beautiful!

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    1. You're most welcome. Yes, the New England Asters were plentiful when I was there. I imagine they're still blooming now. We've only flirted with frost so far in this area, so probably many other wildflowers are still blooming, too.

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  5. What a beautiful place. I love to see your wild flowers. How wonderful to have asters growing wild. The autumn tints are lovely.

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    1. The colors are so lovely this time of year, aren't they? Here in the Midwest autumn starts subtle, and then the landscape sets fire with reds and oranges and mauve and yellows. We're nearing peak color now, so I need to get out and capture some of it before it's too late!

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  6. Thank you Beth, beautiful photos of what is clearly a very special place. Gladnyou got to steal time to enjoy it on such a lovely day, these moments have to be seized!

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    1. So true, Janet! Soon I won't even want to go outside because it will be too cold! The nature center is a great place. In springtime, the woodland garden has a nice collection of blooming ephemerals. In summer, the prairies are at their peak of beauty. And in fall, there's a rainbow glow of color.

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  7. What a fabulous place! I love educational habitats, especially for children. Our Master Gardener group's theme for this year is land ethics and each month we've had a different speaker on the topic. It has been very enlightening. I think it is fabulous when we can pass along this knowledge to the next generation through hands on, real life experiences like this center is offering. Beautiful photos Beth!

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    1. Thanks, Karin! I agree--outdoor education and land ethic teaching are so important for the next generations. For a while it seemed we were losing those disciplines, but recently it seems people are realizing their importance. :)

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  8. Thank you so much for that tour! What a special place and your incredible photos truly capture its beauty!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it's a lovely setting. And there's always something new to discover and photograph there. :)

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  9. Aldo Leopold's books have affected me deeply over the years. This man, along with conservationists like John Muir and photographers like Ansel Adams changed the way we think about our precious natural resources. Thank God for them.

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    1. Very true, Susie. Aldo Leopold started out in Iowa, lived out west for several years, and then spent most of the rest of his life in Wisconsin. But like Muir, his writing and teachings are relevant for any person on earth. I hope we continue to learn from their wisdom and knowledge.

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  10. Beautiful photos. Can you believe I've never visited ALNC? Been past it quite a number of times, but have never had the chance to explore their trails (I have read the book, though). The Arboretum is so accessible and convenient to where I live that I rarely think about the many other nature preserves in the area. :-\

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    1. The Leopold center is nearer to me than the Arboretum, but I enjoy both of them! I volunteer at the Arb and absolutely love it! We certainly have rich botanical gardens and nature preserves (including so many wonderful state parks and wildlife areas) nearby and throughout the state. We are blessed. :)

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  11. Sounds like a great place to learn.
    Your wordless tour is a great way to share your trek with us, so many wonderful images and of course the diversity of the critters there in. Thoroughly enjoyable read Beth. Thanks for sharing with us.

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    1. Thank you, Angie. It's a great place to visit if you ever travel here. I'm glad you enjoyed the tour. :)

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  12. Thank you for this. You did wonderful work capturing all the colors of the flowers, leaves and insects. The monarch-aster sequence is particularly nice. And the leaves with the tinges of red. I like it all!

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    1. Thank you, Jane. It was a beautiful day and such a blessing to see all the beauty there. I was happy to see several Monarchs, but I was hoping they'll have a safe trip south. By now, I'm sure they're well on their way to Mexico. :) Happy autumn!

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  13. So beautiful, it looks like you were there at just the right time to capture the autumn glory of such special place. Great photos with awesome natural light.

    Love the Monarchs on the asters, mine are just beginning to bloom this week. We have been seeing Monarchs in South Texas for several weeks now and it seems they are here in greater numbers this year.

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. It was a beautiful day with a high temp in the 80s--unusual for late September here. The light was great for photography--my favorite combination of dappled sun and oblique light. I noticed on the Journey North site that people are now reporting Monarch sightings from Ontario to Mexico--so wonderful! I hope they all make it to Florida, Texas, and Mexico before the really cold weather sets in.

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  14. And the days dwindle down...to a precious few. Good for you for grabbing as much of them as possible.

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    1. Yes, unfortunately our mild weather only lasts about 6 months here.
      :( Almost time to wear long underwear, boots, and parkas. And to trade gardening for crocheting and good books! ;-)

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  15. What a lovely place to walk! And you got to see monarchs!! It's really great how so many places are emphasizing education for the next generation and have some good programs to educate kids. Hopefully we can raise a generation that is more aware.

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    1. Yep, great place for a hike! I agree--we need more outdoor education opportunities for kids! The more, the better! I can't believe we still have Monarchs here, at the same time the first ones are reaching Mexico. So wonderful!

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  16. I absolutely loved your autumn walk...and all the beautiful wildlife! What a sacred place for people to wander...♥

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    1. Thanks, Cat! It is a wonderful resource, not far from the city. Green spaces in cities are so important, aren't they?!

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  17. What a perfect spot to be in nature...and look at the monarchs so happy visiting too. I love Leopold's books and I am sure this is a special spot he would love. I am feeling the itch to visit our local nature center...soon.

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    1. Yes, it's great to have resources like this nearby. I know I'll miss the nature walks in the months ahead. I don't like to go out much during the winter...

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  18. What a lovely place--thanks for taking us along! This reminds me that I've been promising Sophie I'd take her to our local forest preserve ever since fall began--must make time for that. So good to see a dragonfly and the Monarchs enjoying the plantings. I saw one Monarch here yesterday which surprised me, but maybe there are still a few stragglers here.

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    1. It's a beautiful spot and great educational center for kids and adults, alike. I saw a Monarch a few days ago, but we hovered around 33-34 last night. Most of my plants are still OK. I think we're a little protected here on the southeast side of the lake. People are still reporting Monarchs here in the north, and now it's forecast to warm up next week. Still time for more butterflies. :)

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  19. Yes Beth i very much enjoyed the tour as i can only tour gardens virtually. I know how grasses look like in real settings, but they always look very beautiful in photos like yours.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the tour. :) You're so kind. In fall, the light is so wonderful coming in at angles as it does here in the north. By the way, I'm very much enjoying your macro photos. They're fascinating!

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  20. Beautiful! Felt like I was walking there with you. Such a nice tour :)

    And your photos are amazing. Particularly the milkweed :)

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    1. Thanks, Aaron! Sometimes the weather, the wildlife, the plants, the light, and everything else just come together to make for a wonderfully fulfilling experience. This short block of time was like that. :)

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  21. I feel as if I've been ! thank you for the visit! I agree that we have to make the most of these last mild sunny days...

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    1. Thanks for joining the virtual tour. If we could only bottle some of these exquisite days. But, then they wouldn't seem so fabulous if they were all the same. ;-)

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