At Midsummer, Dreams of Botanizing Far Afield

For June 17, 2020

Please share this missive with your friends & neighbors.

Hi WN@TL Fans,

We’re more than halfway through June, the month that is always gone too soon.  In a few days comes the summer solstice, and then the long slide til December 21stice.

It’s been a good few days to be Up North in Vilas County.  Debbie at the Star Lake Store on County K has been generous in sharing her high-speed internet, so I collect my email once a day while other people are stopping in to fetch their US Mail.

Around Lake Laura the wildlife is putting on a show. Lupines are raising their purple banners in the open yard while the plover parents are trying to wrangle their chicks in the grass.  A phoebe pair has at least four chicks to feed in the muddy nest plastered to the wall beneath the eaves at the back door of the cabin.

Through the cove daily pass a blue heron, an immature bald eagle, a merganser mom with her clutch of 11, a threesome of beaver, a lonesome otter, a lonely loon.

Some visitors are rarer.  Two days ago a box turtle scooped out a nest a few feet from the deck of the house, and over a couple of hours laid her eggs, and then was gone for another year.  This morning a musky lolled in the shallow water, and slipped away.

The water level in Lake Laura is at a recent high, and white pines & spruce & river birch that once grew at the edge of a 10-foot-wide beach now stand in two feet of crystal water.  What was three years ago a lakeside bog is now a small bay and in just a couple of years the aquatic plants have surged back where mosses had dominated.  As Ben Logan wrote, “The Land Remembers”—including the land that recently was land but now is lake bottom.

It’s always a good time to go on a botanizing adventure, but especially so at mid-summer, when the days are long and languid.

Here are two WN@TLs on excursions to the wild in search of plants, featuring Prof Tom Givnish and the the work of people who go to the woods & mountains, and to the deserts & shores, to find and delve into plants, their communities, and their evolution.

Bromeliad Evolution


Carnivorous Plants


The plants await.  Good hunting out in your yard, your park, your Arb, or your cabin.

I hope to see you sometime soon once we can resume Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H



UW-Madison:  5.8 million owners, one pretty good public land-grant teaching, research and extension university.

Visit UW-Madison’s science outreach portal at for information on the people, places & programs on campus that welcome you to come experience science as exploring the unknown, all year round.

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