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Boy walking in field

The Year in Pictures

December 22, 2019  |  Topics: Spotlight

Edited and with an introduction by Eddee Daniel

An appropriate symbol for the year 2019, it could be argued, is fire. From the slogan “Our house is on fire!” – raised by schoolchildren worldwide as a part of the Climate Strike initiated by teen advocate Greta Thunberg – to the actual conflagrations in California, it became clearer this year that our world is getting hotter. Although there have been warnings for decades, this was the year when climate change started showing up in the news almost on a daily basis.

Schoolchildren holding up "Save Earth" signs at Climate Strike rally

The Climate Strike made several appearances in Milwaukee during the year. This was a particularly large gathering of mostly schoolchildren in Water Tower Park on September 20.

Fire, however, can be both benign and beneficial, which is the experience I had several times this year when I was fortunate enough to witness controlled burns in area parks and preserves. The most satisfying – and photogenic – of them was this one in Three Bridges Park, with the skyline of downtown Milwaukee for a backdrop.

For the first full year since the launch of this blog, The Natural Realm, I thought it appropriate to join in the venerable tradition of presenting a Year in Pictures. In fact, it was a very good year and I could easily have chosen to include twice as many photographs. Most, but not all, of the photos are my own and most have appeared in a blog post during the year. Links to those posts are provided in the captions. It may not need stating, but I believe it’s worth repeating that all of the selections are from the six-county project area of Southeast Wisconsin, which is the subject of A Wealth of Nature.

This is my personal favorite image of the year. I shot it on a group hike at W. R. Wadewitz Nature Camp in Rochester, Racine County. For about an hour the group all dutifully hiked together along the wide, mown trails of the park. This boy, whose name is Oscar, had been quite withdrawn all along. Suddenly, he decided to stride off on his own into this large field and I managed to capture the beatific smile that lit up his face in that moment. It makes me smile all over again every time I look at it (which I do often, as I put it on the desktop of my computer!)

And so, without further ado, I present to you, in roughly chronological order, the Year in Pictures.

Three ice fishermen and ice fishing hut at Lakeshore State Park.
Ice fishing at Lakeshore State Park.
Winter sunrise by Tim Holte from a photo essay and story about Lake Michigan in winter. Courtesy Tim Holte.
two sled dogs pulling a sled at Mequon Nature Preserve Winter Frolics
Dog sled demonstration at Mequon Nature Preserve’s Winter Frolics.
Kletzsch Park Dam, site of a proposed fish passage project that generated controversy over the course of the year. First story published in January and then a revised plan was debated in December. Photo courtesy Susan Ruggles.
a woman snowshoeing on a frozen lake
Cynthia Lorenz snowshoeing on the frozen lake at Huiras Lake State Natural Area
where she served as artist in residence as part of the ARTservancy program.
The Natural Realm featured all twelve ARTservancy artists and their preserves.
restoration in progress on the Kinnickinnic River in Pulaski Park
Kinnickinnic River restoration in Pulaski Park continued throughout the year and is still in progress today.
sunrise over Lake Michigan
Sunrise on Easter Sunday at Grant Park.
waterfall in snow at Whitnall Park
Blizzard in April at Whitnall Park.
Pike River restoration project in Petrifying Springs County Park, Kenosha
Newly completed restoration project on the Pike River in Petrifying Springs Park, Kenosha.
a young girl holding a salamander at a pond in Barloga Woods
Iva, a young citizen scientist wetlands monitor, holding a salamander in a pond at the Barloga Woods portion of Falk Park in Oak Creek.
Artist in residence Gina Litherland at Bratt Woods Preserve on the Milwaukee River in Grafton
Gina Litherland, another of the ARTservancy artists in residence at Bratt Woods Preserve in Grafton.
worm's eye view of Mayapple blossoms
A worm’s eye view of Mayapple blossoms in the Menomonee River Parkway, Wauwatosa, which took ‘grand prize’ in “12 awards for spring flowers and wildlife.”
A family of four sandhill cranes stroll through McCoy Field Park in Brookfield.
A family of sandhill cranes stroll through McCoy Field Park in Brookfield.
young fawn struggling to stand
A young fawn still finding its legs in Riverside Park, Burlington, which appeared in “12 awards for spring flowers and wildlife.”
Artist Sally Duback with her newly installed mosaic chimney swift tower in Virmond Park, Mequon. This was one of the attractions in this year’s Treasures of OZ tour.
I like this one for the sense it evokes of a passage into a wilderness. Fox Brook Park, Brookfield.
a flotilla of canoes in the lagoon at Washington Park, Milwaukee
Canoeing 101, a class taught by the Urban Ecology Center at its Washington Park branch.
Artist Nicole Shaver with her sculpture, Geo Egg, at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve in Port Washington
ARTservancy artist in residence Nicole Shaver with her sculpture, Geo Egg, at Forest Beach Migratory Preserve near Port Washington.
a fleet of kayaks and other boats on the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee.
Kayakers ply the downtown waters of the Milwaukee River in a photo essay called “River of Kayaks.”
As a “call to action” Preserve Our Parks posted these alarming signs in 300 Milwaukee County Parks in order to draw attention to the system’s financial woes. Courtesy Preserve Our Parks.
A cyanotype print made by ARTservancy artist in residence Andrew Musil at his site, Cedarburg Environmental Study Area in Cedarburg.
Courtesy Andrew Musil.
Citizen scientists conducting a snake survey at Retzer Nature Center.
Monarch butterflies on rough blazing star blossoms at the Monarch Trail in Wauwatosa.
Monarch tagging was also a hit at the Mequon Nature Preserve.
Hiking on the Monches segment of the Ice Age Trail with the Urban Wilderness Explorers, a new Meetup group created to take people out to see our wealth of nature.
Artist Melanie Ariens has helped spearhead an annual “We Are Water” celebration for the Milwaukee Water Commons for several years with her creative beach installations.
This joyful moment in Jackson Park was a highlight of my October Odyssey in search of autumn color.
This year’s Santa Rampage in Kadish Park.
Photographer Danielle Pahlisch is a coyote whisperer, who also dispenses advice about avoiding conflicts with urban coyotes. Courtesy Danielle Pahlisch.

For more information about the activities of A Wealth of Nature during the year 2019, go to our annual report.

Eddee Daniel is a board member of Preserve Our Parks and the Project Director of A Wealth of Nature. All photographs are his except as noted.