November 23, 2020

Secret Places and Simple Pleasures

trail 1

Recently the dog and I hiked at one of our favorite places. Several things about this location are special, starting with the fact that I wouldn't have known this beautiful place existed if I didn't have a dog. It's a designated dog trail at a Wisconsin state park near my house. When the park's other trails are closed during the cross-country skiing season, this trail remains open to dogs and hikers. While I've hiked at the state park many, many times over the years, I didn't discover this particular path until last winter!

Every time I've visited this trail since January, it has revealed new gems of beauty.


During our recent mid-November hike here, I found myself awed by the mature trees that line the trail.


Ferns, mosses, lichens, and sedges are still evergreen among the carpet of Oak leaves.

trail 2

A particularly magical patch of the trail is hard to describe in photos and words, but I'll try: It's a little opening, about 3/4 of the way through the path, where the woodland opens into a meadow. My impression is that this section illustrates the movement of the glacier that formed the nearby lake.

woodland hill

On one side of the trail, there's a hill that appears to be a glacial drumlin.

meadow and lake

On the other side of the trail, at the woodland opening, there's a beautiful meadow with a view of the lake. One senses how the retreating glacier formed this area.

seedheads and trees

The light is magical in this meadow--in all seasons, but particularly in spring and autumn and late afternoon, as the oblique light hits the grasses, sedges, wildflowers, and seedheads.


On this recent day at the park, the sky was beautiful, too. Seedheads of asters, goldenrods, and other autumn-blooming plants were sparkling--backlit by the low-hanging sun.

seedheads 2

seedheads 1


meadow view

I love this place. I'm thankful I discovered it, and I'm thankful that Nicky and I can walk here just about any day we wish. Simple pleasures are so important during a global pandemic. I hope you all are finding simple pleasures, and I wish for those who celebrate it, a very Happy Thanksgiving!

November 15, 2020

Surprise November Blooms

Dog Park View Landscape
The November view at my favorite dog park.

It's mid-November and most views in the surrounding landscapes are brown and gray, with spots of green grass red barns here and there. Just imagine the color in this field of native plants during summer and fall. Now most of the grasses and forbs have gone to seed.


But there are a few blooms hanging on here and there in area gardens and in nature. In my garden, the blooms of note include this surprise potted Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium) from a mixed planter we received earlier in the year. I plopped it into the ground with low expectations, so I was thrilled to see the pretty blooms in early fall. They've lasted through several frosts and freezes now.


Most of the Blue Mistflowers (Conoclinium coelestinum) are gone to seed, but these blooms in a vase on the screened porch still sport that lovely shade of lavender blue. I have to admit the soft, fluffy, "warm" seedheads slay me even more than the flowers.


The 'Autumn Joy' Sedums (Hylotelephium telephium) are transitioning, too. I found this one chewed off by a rabbit, so I plugged it back in among the autumn leaves.


This tiny fighter is Calamintha (C. nepeta). Again, most have gone to seed, but a few stems near the warm house still bloom! Actually, this pollinator favorite blooms from late spring until the very end of the growing season.

What's blooming in your garden? Check out those highlighted for this November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens.