Arboretum – Summer Solstice

I have taken numerous bike rides through the UW Arboretum, but I had yet to walk on its network of trails.

That was before June 20, when a new biking friend invited me to attend one of the arboretum’s scheduled events: a summer solstice night walk. Let’s just say I’ve been missing out on some beautiful sights and sounds.

On my drive to the Visitor Center I shared McCaffrey Drive with three turkeys, who weren’t bothered by my engine’s presence at all.


Naturalists Kathy Miner and Levi Wood talked to the large group about the significance of summer solstice and how the sun “stands still.” Then they split us up into two groups and led us into the arboretum.

2016-06-20-nature-arboretum3Levi mentioned he was a birder, so I joined his group. We started at the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, which features thousands of trees and plants that grow well in Madison’s climate, like this tricolored European beech.

2016-06-20-nature-arboretum4We also touched the spongy bark of a cork tree, awed at the peculiar leaves of a tulip tree and stood under this towering bald cypress.


We soon found out not all visitors respect the trees, unfortunately. This paper birch is not meant for carving initials and hearts.


We walked through Gallistel Woods at dusk and spent time in silence on a boardwalk overlooking a cattail marsh. Levi said it seemed like a nice time to pull out Aldo Leopold’s “A Sand County Almanac” and read a portion of the July chapter. As he spoke, common yellowthroats sang out, followed by the eery howl of a coyote.


Even though we weren’t high enough to see the sunset and moonrise simultaneously, neon fireflies put on a show in the light of the full moon.


For more photos from the night hike, check out my Flickr page.

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