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The dark shadowy foreboding of a northern white-cedar swamp easily lures one into its soft verdant dampness. Life awakens in abundance in the warm spring sunshafts sifting through the feathery scale-like evergreen cedar leaves above. I can't describe the clean pungent smell of tangy freshness from the ragged reddish cedar bark heated by sunshine.

It only takes a moment to hear the first buzz of a fuzzy wonder on the floor of the swamp.


shy dappled sunstreaks
uncurl soft lacey green sails
in early morning
Marsh fern Thelypteris palustris

A young green frog calls 'gung-gung-gung' like strumming on a loose banjo string. He watches me suspiciously while posing in his pool of bubbly pond scum.

IMG_1695 Rana clamitans melanota

Entwined cedar twins share their united roots as a permanent family entanglement of a far left leaning or center right. But, they're just trees.

IMG_1791 Thuja occidentalis

High overhead in a small pocket of canopy still waiting for new leaves, a buttery yellow warbler with narrow cinnamon breast streaks is singing his heart out. I whisper a hearty amen at the end of his joyous spring hymn. He flits to the next branch and begins his sweet song anew.

Setophaga petechia

Amphibian heaven on earth and paradise, too.


There's a reason it's called skunk cabbage, but I only see lovely lush foliage leaves.

Symplocarpus foetidus

At the fringe of the cedar swamp bushy clusters of grey dogwood stand as sentinals with bursts of white petals and pale yellow stamens.

Cornus racemosa

Dried female ament fruits hang like ornately carved ornaments from the speckled alders in the thicket...

Alnus incana

and the smallest purple explosions pop open, bloom by bloom, if someone notices.


Black cherry blooms tickle bee bottoms with pollen.

Prunus serotina

A simple slime mold dazzles the blossoms above with a depth of color saturation that challenges even the boldest sunset.


The bleached under-bones of upended cedars become a creative sculpture garden in the depths of the swamp.


Pileated woodpeckers are masters of geometric vertical rectangles.


Tender new tamarack needles will turn tawny yellow in the frosts of late autumn and be shed in a soft golden blizzard onto the swamp floor. Diciduous conifers stand naked in the cold all winter.

Larix laricina

A soft refreshing lake breeze drifts into the swamp.  

Mauthe Lake

In the 16th century, French explorer Cartier named the white-cedar, arborvitae or 'tree of life' after native americans showed him how to use the foliage to heal and prevent his scurvy.


A life or death moment between preditor and prey. I carefully observed the spar and know the outcome. Ask me.


Cinnamon ferns unfurl in rippled sunlit shadows.

Osmunda cinnamomea

If given the choice I'll take the path less traveled and discover what's just around the corner.

Tamarack Loop Trail

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Wed May 30, 2012 at 04:30 PM PDT.

Also republished by Badger State Progressive.

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