Join our Email List!





Trinity Creek Wetland Panorama

Is it Spring yet? A panoramic view

March 23, 2022  |  Topics: Places

By Eddee Daniel

A panorama, according to Merriam-Webster, is “an unobstructed or complete view of an area in every direction.” A panoramic photograph, which attempts to capture such a view, tends to be proportionally long and thin. I invite you to join with me in experiencing a pair of very distinct preserves with a (mostly) panoramic point of view in this capricious season vacillating between winter and spring. The first, Falk Park, was one of the first parks added to the Find-a-Park map on this website. The Trinity Creek site, added just this week, is the most recent.

Falk Park, Oak Creek

In every direction, the trees stand tall, as if reaching for the beguiling sun. I too feel my spirit rise with a dream of spring. With no canopy to block it, the light in the forest is extraordinary, beaming down from the limitless sun, but seeming to emanate from the trees themselves. Winter is subdued for the moment, all but defeated by the clarity of the rising sun. You can stand in the open, inviting understory, turn 360°, seeing only trees, and know, at least here in this moment, despite the lingering chill, spring will come after all.

We tend to call a particular group of trees a “stand,” implying (inadvertently perhaps) stillness. But I swear these oaks must be in motion, gesturing if not actually dancing, to a tune played out in decades and centuries rather than the human conceit of minutes and hours.

Forests, like cities, may be made up of distinct neighborhoods. Falk Park has wet precincts—known in scientific parlance as mesic and here dominated by beech and maple—and dry or xeric precincts, here blessed with oak and hickory.

“It takes two to tango.” May they…, and may I never lose the spirit of the dance.

Desiccated, marcescent leaves tremble in the breeze. Winter doesn’t strip the beeches.  The leaves cling tightly to their branches, awaiting the resurgence of new growth before being jettisoned.

The creek, still gripped in ice like a receding glacier, provides ample evidence that winter has not quite relented.

Beneath my feet the creek draws a sinuous line, a panorama of freezing and thawing—the phases of matter surging silently through the forest.

We set aside parcels of pacified forest for human recreation and edification, but find in them here and there rhythms of wilderness.

The Blue Shirt. How do we choose to live in a world drawn and quartered by urban planning, hardened with concrete and steel, and removed from its origins in nature? Are we, like the somnolent forest, waiting for a resurrection? The trees whisper in our ears….

The Blue Building. A hard horizon ruled through the tree line, framing, containing, if not quite canceling nature.

The long, thin composition mimics a panorama, but a view that takes in a few inches of the frozen world beneath my feet is hardly panoramic! And yet…, a complete view and understanding of a place takes in the ground beneath our feet, the sky overhead, the incessant murmur of traffic on the freeway just beyond the park boundary. 

Walk with wonder, inhale the incense of the earth, listen to the woodland melodies, feel the freedom proffered here, and honor the sanctity that surrounds you. The panorama isn’t complete until it moves in your heart as well as your mind’s eye.

Trinity Creek Wetland Habitat, Mequon

I am ready for spring; song birds with all their optimism cheer it on. The ice recedes. But spring is fickle, like the groundhog, peeking out from its burrow one day and vanishing the next.

Amorous pairs of wild geese stake safe nesting territories along the shore of this small, still ice-bound island, this bit of wild habitat in the wetland, this bit of wild wetland in an increasingly human habitat.

Ecotone. Rising in layers of warm analogous colors, a succession of flourishing vegetation marks the transition from marsh to woodland.

Dancing for spring? A rhapsodic rhythm as last year’s forbs and grasses sway and swing in the wind—like animated skeletons.

The solitary jogger. How small we are as individuals in the panoramic scope of nature! But how large our species looms in a panoramic view of the planet.

Beaver lodge. In our newfound wisdom, we have restored—that is re-engineered—this stretch of Trinity Creek, after previous generations degraded it, in order to provide stormwater storage, improve water quality, and create viable habitat for wildlife, including spawning sites for northern pike, which migrate up the creek from the Milwaukee River. And now the beaver, too, has returned, unbidden, to re-engineer what we have done.

The art of photography is above all a matter of selection, cropping and framing. Any photographer worth their salt can crop a beautiful landscape to make it seem paradisiacal. A panoramic understanding of Trinity Creek Wetland Habitat, however, must include the Gateway Plastics factory, which is unavoidable as one approaches the preserve.

I search and search for spring, my face upturned to the blazing sun. Is this a vivid dream?

Note on technique: Panoramic photography was once a laborious affair, requiring special equipment. Now, however, cellphones have gotten so sophisticated that they make it relatively simple. Many of these images I shot with my cellphone using its panoramic feature, which I recommend. However, some of the images are simply cropped down to a long thin composition from originals shot in standard format.

For more information about either of the two parks featured go to our Find-a-Park pages:

Falk Park

Trinity Creek Wetland Habitat

Slough. Little Menomonee River Parkway.


If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? Wait! What an anthropocentric aphorism. When a tree falls in the forest, the rest of the trees will be listening. If you don’t believe that, I encourage you to check out The Hidden Life of Trees” by Peter Wohlleben.

Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and Project Director of A Wealth of Nature. Falk Park is a Milwaukee County Park and the Mke Co Parks Department is a partner organization to A Wealth of Nature.