Franklin Savanna, Another Case Study in Ecosystem Collapse


The collapse of a bur oak at Franklin Savanna amidst the encroaching buckthorn thicket and the shade of elms, Hill’s oaks, and black cherry

It was an old oak pasture that taught me about the great abundance of nature. We climbed those trees, or rather, when we crawled under the fence into Mr. Erickson’s pasture, walked right up onto their great, open-grown limbs. My first loves in nature—snakes, frogs, toads, and butterflies—lived among those oaks. Red-headed woodpeckers were our common woodpeckers. We watched bats on warm summer evenings.

That was just a pasture in rural Iowa in the 1980s. A place that could have been or could be a savanna again, but also a place exploited for more than 100 years. Savannas, real savannas intact in their biota and core processes are something vanishingly rare.


An area of true bur oak savanna at Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area. Over the last decade or two, this site has been burned more years than not. This portion of the natural area is rare, in that encroaching woody vegetation was never so severe as to shade out and kill the lower limbs of the oaks or dramatically reduce the diversity or strutural integrity of the herbaceous vegetation (side note–herbaceous plants are no less important than oaks in savannas).


This portion of Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area experienced prior canopy closure and was once choked with invasive shrubs. After years of dedicated stewardship, this area is improving.



Another true oak savanna, this one of mostly white oak, but also with some large northern red oaks and bur oaks, on private property on Lake Beulah. This site may have never been grazed, which is almost unheard of in this area and could explain why a few portions of it persisted in this condition without management. Elsewhere, maple, ironwood, ash, and bush honeysuckle did invade, but efforts are underway to to open the site up and promote the type of community seen here.

I walked Franklin Savanna State Natural Area in far southwestern Milwaukee County for the first time recently. I knew going in that it was going to be rough. Joshua Mayer on his State Natural Areas of Wisconsin blog said the following of the site:

“The great bur oaks bely the open environment that used to dominate this area, but there is virtually no evidence of a present-day savanna.  The natural area as presently constituted is basically a southern mesic forest with a creek and a few scattered opening filled with grasses.  There is no information found on Milwaukee County Park’s website, though they have a Natural Areas program.  A brief description can be found on the website of the Milwaukee Area Land Conservancy, but everything I have found suggests that this is a site that can be restored if funding is attained.  I have read that efforts are underway to restore the site, but as of fall 2016, I saw little evidence to that effect.  In the meantime, enjoy a stroll in a dense forest, but bring the bug spray!”


This is one of those oaks. It’s lower limbs reached down to the ground before they died years ago.

It was obvious from a review of aerial photography going back to 1937 that Franklin Savanna had once been something much different, a fairly large tract of pastured and degraded prairie-savanna matrix studded with very large, open-grown oaks. At that time much of the uncultivated uplands in the southeastern Wisconsin landscape south of the vegetative tension zone were quite similar to this, generally mosaics of prairie, savanna, and oak woodland. Like much of the rest of that landscape, change since the middle of the last century has been dramatic, and the response has been tragically flat-footed.

As grazing ceased, suppressed woody vegetation was released in an environment where the integrity of the plant community and soil structure were likely impaired by years of high stocking rates. In southeastern Wisconsin, this generally occurred between 1960 and 1980, and coincided with a brief period of oak recruitment dominated by red oaks, particularly Hill’s oak. However, the real winners were shrubs, both native and exotic. The resulting canopy closure extirpated much of the native herbaceous vegation still present and closed the door on significant future oak regeneration. Relatively open sites were often invaded by bush honeysuckle early on, but most sites have subsequently been invaded by common buckthorn. Today, these sites typically consist of a declining overstory of mostly bur and/or white oaks, lower limbs long shaded and killed; a younger overstory of younger red oaks (Hill’s, northern red, and black), American elm, and black cherry; a shrub layer dominated by common buckthorn, or perhaps prickly ash under lucky circumstances; and a sparse herbaceous layer with an over-representaltion of species with easily-dispersed, stick-tight seeds like white avens, common agrimony, and stickseed. With this transition, the open landscape vanished, deer ticks became locally abundant, biting flies and mosquitos found new cover, and the whip-poor-will and the red-headed woodpecker lifted themselves by the seats of their pants and flew away, ceding their territory to the birds of closed forests.


One of many remaining ancient, open grown bur oaks stands among dense buckhorn at Franklin Savanna. The number and presence of these trees can only be appreciated in winter after the leaves have fallen from the dense thicket. The lower limbs are lost, but this tree could probably be saved for decades to come.

Is Franklin Savanna a savanna?

Most of the open-grown trees are there in various states of decline, which could play out over a few years, decades, or more than a century. A few have already collapsed. Hill’s oaks stand shoulder to shoulder in places, still supporting native insects and the forest birds that forage on them, while at the same time hastening the decline of giant bur and white oaks and making future outbreaks of oak wilt extremely likely.


A young bur oak, which likely got its start after grazing ceased in the middle 1900s. It could not keep up with the buckthorn, black cherry, elm, and Hill’s oak.

Is it an oak woodland, something perhaps as rare or rarer than oak savanna?

Oak woodlands were diverse and likely stable over centuries, with open understories shaped by frequent, low-intensity fires. The understory of Franklin Savanna is mostly buckthorn. Fire is gone. A diverse, intact herbaceous layer and everything it might support are absent.

oak woodland

This is an oak woodland. Diversity is high. Trees are healthy. Oak regeneration can occur and is occuring. Of course, a big bite was taken out of this one to put in a boat launch.


Here, another ancient bur oak is overtopped by a young forest of Hill’s oak. For now, the Hill’s oak produce acorns and support insects for abundant wildlife, but this is not a stable system. It’s one wind storm away from being opened up to the possibility of devastation by oak wilt.

If we had a name for the oak savanna that has undergone ecological collapse in a fragmented landscape under immense pressure from numerous invasive species with inadequate human intervention, that’s what we should call this. #@$%-thicket, is one name in use among some people in my field, which is prompted by the blood, sweat, stick-tights, and bites that often come with moving through such a place. That’s not really how I think of places like this, because there is much to see that makes me dream of better, but it’s not on its way to better. .


More collapse. In a true, healthy savanna, this wouldn’t be ugly. Trees die, and in their death provides critical wildlife habitat. Here it is different. These trees are dying and are being replaced by the homogenous landscape of neglect.

But what could it be? What should it be? What trajectory might it take to realize its potential to support the most biodiversity in the most need of conservation. How can we make this a place that compels visitors to love the land?

Ancient bur oaks are still there, shedding their masts of acorns onto the dead ground. We can look to other sites that have embarked on similar trajectories towards ecological collapse. A precious few of these have been spared by the simultaneously heavy and delicate hands of visionary people that were able to look at the land and not see just what was lost, but also what could be. These people have executed plans that have yielded spectacular results in a decade or two. These sites, once savannas, are savannas today…probably a little different, but savannas. They are breazy, living, savannas.

Franklin Savanna now is a woods in transition, consisisting largely of legacy oaks and the birds they support, with no regenerative capacity, no structural integrity, and doomed ultimately to become another turn of the wratchet towards a homogeneous, perpetually degraded, forbidding landscape of largely Eurasian plants that capture the energy of the sun, but fail to transmit it through a vital and complex foodweb of native consumers, and instead shed it to decay as litter, some of which even poisons plants and animals alike. Maybe periodic efforts will be made to control invasive species. It’s happened in the past. These efforts are wasted, if the cause of the problem, the complete collapse of community integrity and processes, is not addressed.


In a few areas, past brush / buckthorn cutting was evident, but many, if not all, went untreated. These areas now have as much buckthorn cover as they’ve ever had, and the work was wasted. Here, one stem (resting at the top of the photo) was cut and replaced by four.

In any case, this place will be green with a smattering of animals, most common, some refugees from destruction of closed forests elsewhere. This is a better outcome than an industrial park or a manicured subdivision. Most people, not knowing what was here and having been denied the chance to experience a savanna will see green, and assume all is well. This would be a low bar in the conservation, but it could be greenwashed into a success.

Or we could have a Franklin savanna–the one last large savanna in Milwaukee County. The prescription is clear, though not easy. A steward, volunteer or otherwise and local people that care have a vision and create a plan. Then, they have to cut and treat brush, dramatically thin Hill’s oak, black cherry, and other trees that are common far and wide over the rest of the degraded landscape, seed with as much of the native diversity that can be gathered from the southeastern Wisconsin landscape as possible, develop the capacity to burn frequently, and monitor for and treat new invasive species problems into the future (this will be less an acute problem over time, given the above). If that happened, we might keep our ancient oaks, entice the whip-poor-will and red-headed woodpecker home, and create a refuge of great beauty for ourselves. Others have done it. See the Pleasant Valley Conservancy and the Somme Preserves (with associated blogs). The restoration of the spring flora at the latter, which is crucial for many insects including the now endangered rusty patch bumblebee, is inspiring.


Over the holidays (Festivus, actually) I visited this savanna in Story County, Iowa, one that was full of Amur honeysuckle in the late 1990s, but which has seen steady and slow improvement over twenty years. It’s a joy when I can take my children to a place that’s healthier than it was when I was young.

It appears that the expectation was that this was going to happen when this natural area was dedicated. The Wisconsin DNR’s site description says the following:

“Savanna understory remnants are still present in some places and include such characteristic species as big bluestem, little bluestem, shooting-star, May-apple, and yellow star grass. Other species include whorled milkweed, New England aster, hoary frostweed, stiff goldenrod, wood anemone, Pennsylvania sedge, and starry false Solomon’s-seal. The uncommon autumn coralroot orchid also grows here. The southern portion of the savanna is essentially closed canopy due to fire suppression and the subsequent in filling of fire-intolerant species such as big-tooth aspen, basswood, red elm, American elm, and viburnum. With restoration management such as woody species removal, prescribed burning, and interseeding with native understory species, this site may eventually support a broad continuum of savanna plant species and may also be large enough to support avifauna such as red-headed woodpecker, eastern bluebird, and orchard oriole. Franklin Savanna is owned by Milwaukee County and was designated a State Natural Area in 2004.”

The situation today is much more dire than this description.

Maybe we shouldn’t invest the effort, if that effort comes at the cost of something else we care for more. But let’s be honest, we know how to save places like this, but too often we resort to passive neglect, because sites like this cost money and take dedicated, prolonged effort for any effort to be worthwhile. It’s a choice that our children won’t have the freedom to make.

Some addendums based on thoughts from correspondance received in response to this post.

Addendum 1: When is a site like this too far gone? This one might be, or might not be; it depends what we are willint to invest for a positive outcome. There are objectively better opportunities for large savannas 20-40 miles to the west. This site stands for literally hundreds of others in SE Wisconsin, some under public ownership and others under private ownership, all of which are on the knife’s edge of being gone. This site, a State Natural Area where early intentions were for restoration, I think, is a good place to start a reality check. People are too often only given the good news. Perhaps I wonder about the original dedication as an SNA, since it seems to have been based on the hope that restoration work would occur vs. the site actually being even a remotely healthy savanna even then. What do you do fifteen years later when that restoration, a largely unfunded mandate, didn’t happen? It is what it is.

Addendum 2: I can’t emphasize enough that these savanna restoration sites aren’t worth the effort, if we are not willing to deploy fire at least every two years. Otherwise, they are neverending money pits of shrub cutting and chemical treatment where volunteers, landowners, and stewards never really get the rewards they deserve. At three years without fire, new seedlings of unwanted woody plants aren’t killed, and over-abundant clonal natives like gray dogwood and sumac actually expand more quickly than they would without fire. Maintenance burning is a cost, not an insurmountable one, especially when organizations pool capacity. It costs far less, for example, to manage prairie (savannas maintenance needs are similar) with fire and monitoring for problems than it does to care for an equivalent area of turf.  What of rare insects? Well, specialists are doomed, if their habitat is lost. Fire is a risk, but it’s possible to burn often enough and lessen those risks by installing protected refugia, dividing a site into 2 or 3 burn units and leaving half or a third of the site unburned each year, and burning different units in different seasons (summer fire may be a key to oak recruitment–MUST READ). When fire is frequent, fuel loads are low, and many sites will have patches that go unburned. Lastly, a large, healthy savanna should probably have some thickets of native shrubs/small trees like hazelnut, wild plum, prairie crabapple, nannyberry, juneberry etc. These thickets don’t burn, at least not during prescribed burns conducted under the less volatile conditions covered by local permits. These are also refugia for some insects and other wildlife. These thickets, however, are an element of the savanna that will always require continual buckthorn removal (gardening) in today’s world…or at least for now, because that is such a specific element that only a few people are thinking about in the context of savanna restoration.

Addendum 3: What should Milwaukee County do? I don’t know, and it isn’t for me to say. My reaction to the reality on the ground is visceral, but it’s not because of bad people. To restore this site would require a different model of conservation. It would take volunteer steward that is very involved, knowledgeable about savannas, that collaborates extensively with those involved in savanna and prairie restoration, and that can leverage community support (a corps of volunteers, support for burning, etc.). Does anyone like this live nearby enough to have the necessary presence. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s also true that the County has a lot more closed mesic and dry-mesic forest in its portfolio. It does a good job with those, and it’s not unreasonable to focus on those forests, which also see more vistiors (e.g. Falk Park). …but where does this leave this site?

Addendum 4: There are at least two remnant prairies in Franklin, one under public ownership and one not. Both are on their way out. What about them?

Addendum 5: I used to wish I could have seen the landscape in 1800. Now I’d settle for 1960. I wonder if either children of mine will feel the same way about 2000. At this point, it’s not what we’ve inherited, but what we’re carrying forward for those who will replace us.



Posted in biodiversity, Conservation, Forests, invasive species, native plants, Oak opening, oaks, Prairie, restoration, Savanna, Stewardship | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alternatives to Boring Midwestern Bluegrass and Fescue Lawns

For most of us, home ownership carries with it the management of at least a small parcel of land, and usually this means maintaining a lawn. For the ambitious, this might also include perennial borders, shrubs, and trees. We all need outdoor space to recreate in. Our neighbors all have lawns. People seem to like them. Right?

I killed our bluegrass and fescue lawn. I have methodically replaced it over the last five springs, summers, and falls with species native to North America. Why? I’m an ecologist, and I see irreplaceable natural communities and ecosystems being degraded and destroyed every day and almost everywhere I go. Oftentimes, these types of environmental problems are large and intractable, and working against them is like screaming into the wind. One thing I can do is live my values at home. I also just like to be around plants and all of the organisms they attract. More than 500 North American plants are established on our half-acre lot.

I’ve also found that it’s just a very doable and practical course to take. Sure, it takes work to kill a lawn, prepare a site, and establish a native alternative. However, now that I am largely finished, I spend an hour or two on weekly maintenance during the growing season, which is less than my neighbors spend on their bluegrass and fescue lawns.

I also believe that the grass, border, and bed paradigm of landscaping is destructive. It strives to keep us in on the turf and away from nature and wonder. I don’t want to live that way. Do you?


Typical lawn with a border and a bed of perennials and shrubs arranged as ornaments in a decorative mulch of gravel. How lame!

different spaces

A view of part of the back yard. This includes a more intensively used turf area near the house, which consists of North American species like buffalograss, side-oats grama, poverty oat grass, several sedges, and several low-growing wildflowers. Working out from this, native vegetation is less intensively managed and taller. There is no border or edging. The point of this configuration is to draw people in among the surrounding native vegetation.

Also, using native alternatives in turf areas opens the door to adding a lot of diversity. There are more than forty North American species in my turf (the short, occasionally mowed area–not the surrounding taller stuff), which host specialist foliage feeding insects (e.g. moths and butterflies), provide pollinator resources, and provide my human mind with interest throughout the season.

Existing turf and Eurasian weeds can be killed by a number of means. They can be smothered with an opaque covering like cardboard over the course of several months. They can be dug out. They can be treated with a non-selective herbicide. I have utilized all of these means, but to the likely dismay of many, I prefer the latter. It is effective, practicable, minimizes soil disturbance and the potential for erosion, and it allows one to get native plants into the ground so they can do what they do almost immediately. There are potential risks in the occupational mixing and application of things like glyphosate, but judicious use that paves the way moving forward for a landscape with no need for herbicide, pesticide, and fertilizer is worth it. The soil is not poisoned, nor is the water. Once the turf is dead, any flushes of annual weeds can be easily removed with a flame weeder.


In the background is an area that was treated with glyphosate and has already been planted. In the foreground is an area where turf was dug out in my haste and desire to do work early in the spring before the lawn greened up and could be treated; this was more vulnerable to erosion until plants filled in.


This is the torch I use. It hooks up to a standard propane tank. It’s clunky, but it’s fun to use.

What you replace your exotic turfgrasses with depends on how you use your space. We only intensively use a small area of the back yard, so that is the only place where we maintain a lawn consisting of North American native species. Elsewhere, we have landscaped with native grasses, sedges, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees. Regardless of use, I have found one particular mode of establishment to be the most effective–using transplants. This way it is easy to weed. Seeding, while feasible in some instances, creates situations where weeding is more difficult, and weeding is essential for outcomes that are aesthetically pleasing and low maintenance. I do use seed from time to time, especially in cases of species for which transplants are not available, fresh seed germinates best, or that I establish among transplants after I feel reasonably certain that weed problems have been overcome.


Divisions transplanted into an area where the turf was recently eliminated

More specifically, a low maintenance and a pleasing look can be achieved by the imitation of natural native plant communities, which often means creating a “matrix” or “living mulch” of bunch-grasses or sedges (and perhaps a few specific forbs for specialized situations) often by spacing transplants 12″-18″ apart and interspersing wildflowers of appropriate height between and among them. These then fill in within a few to several months, and once that happens, if you’ve weeded in the interim, you will have to do very little weeding in the future.

oak woodland

This remnant oak woodland and its rich groundlayer vegetation are among my inspirations.

Following are tons of examples of this from our home landscape with brief descriptions. I really have no conclusion here beyond offering these images and trusting that they, despite my lack of photography skill, are compelling.


Here, Pennsylvania sedge (foreground) and Sprengel’s sedge (background) were established from transplants with spring beauty and forked aster. Things filled in within one growing season, and this is a very pleasant area to stroll through.


This is a different view of the same area in the previous picture. Other sedges than those already mentioned include James’ sedge and hairy wood sedge. Mulch is reserved for a meandering footpath, but the surroundings don’t prevent one from leaving that path.

As the season progresses, great blue lobelia, hoary skullcap, forked, aster, purple Joe Pye weed, and others become more prominent over the sedges.

This area along the sidewalk leading to the front door isn’t filled in with grasses and sedges, but native groundcovers including Robin’s plantain (which takes foot traffic), prairie smoke (which takes foot traffic when not in flower), and northern bedstraw. The lighter green groundcover around the birch tree is grove sandwort. The open shrubs in the upper left are false indigobush, which let’s through a lot of light and allows for underplanting. The shrubs in the upper right are low bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera…not the invasive bush honeysuckles).

blue eyed grass

This is more or less the same area pictured immediately above, but a little later in the spring. Mountain blue-eyed grass and Robin’s plantain are in full bloom. Prairie smoke’s wispy seed heads are visible, kinnickinnic grows in the foreground. These plants are chosen to be showy, low, and unimposing near the front entryway to the house.

danthonia lawn

This is an area of high-use lawn in the back yard. The foreground falls mostly under the shade of a mature bur oak and was planted with wood sedge transplants and poverty oatgrass seeds (one for which seed is more practical for establishment). This transitions to buffalograss in the background where there is at least half a day of full sun.


This turf of buffalograss with small amounts of hairy grama, blue grama, and side-oats grama mixed in is growing in sunny portions of the high-use area of our back yard. It stands up to regular traffic, and as of now in our sandy loam soils, it has held up to Wisconsin weather through four growing seasons and winters.

front yard

This was among my first plantings at this address. Here, prairie dropseed and little bluestem form a matrix into which butterfly milkweed, pale purple coneflower, and many other wildflowers have been planted. Towards the bottom is a somewhat more moist swale where sedges have been used to fill space and inter-planted with foxglove beardtongue, compass plant, marsh milkweed, and others. The shrub in the lower left is buttonbush. The lawn on the other side of the driveway is now all gone.

ranunculus and violets

Early buttercup and common blue violet blooming around the margins of the high use area in the back yard. Early buttercup is among the first flowers to bloom for me, often beginning during the first week of April. Both violets and early buttercup establish best from fresh seed. These are mixed here with grasses like poverty oatgrass and sedges, which are more prominent as the season progresses.


This area was planted with transplants during the previous fall and had not quite filled in as of the time of this photograph. Robin’s plantain and round-leaved ragwort (another that tolerates foot traffic) are the groundcovers that are in flower. Nodding onion and Jacob’s ladder are visible, but not in flower.

buffalograss and kittentails

Kittentails (tolerate foot traffic), poverty oat grass, buffalograss, and common wood sedge co-mingling near the edge of the oak canopy


Foliage of cat’s foot, prairie ragwort, winecups, parasol sedge, prairie violet, and hairy panic grass in area occasionally walked on between a foot path and the compost bin.


An August scene of buffalograss lawn with royal catchfly, little bluestem, butterfly milkweed, and Maryland senna in the background

More buffalograss, with a rogue white clover that I hope I didn’t miss


Cardinal flower and forked aster make a good combination in late summer along a mulched path. Purple Joe-pye weed and starry campion flower under the oaks in the background.


Prairie blazingstar, marsh milkweed, and slender mountain mint in the moist swale down by the road


Showy milkweed with fox sedge, prairie dock, and Kalm’s St. John’s wort in the moist swale down by the road


Ohio horsemint and Ohio spiderwort make for a purple early summer show on the front slope. The line of shrubs in the background consists mostly ninebark of and fragrant sumac.


Royal catchfly, grove sandwort, cat’s foot, and some Pennsylvania sedge under a birch tree and false indigobush.


Round-leaved ragwort, Robin’s plantain, and wild geranium


Woodland phox, Jacob’s ladder, bishop’s cap, amethyst shooting star, pedunculate sedge, swamp saxifrage, leatherwood, large yellow lady’s slipper orchid, little yellow lady’s slipper orchid, and some violets between the front sidewalk and the house (faces north-northwest). There was an overgrown yew hedge here when we moved in.


High spring in the side yard. There is a lot of wild geranium, common wood sedge, round-leaved ragwort, wild strawberry, and White Bear Lake sedge in this picture.


Woodland in the foreground transitioning to little bluestem and prairie dropseed on the slope down to the street


These wood betony seedlings are from seed given to me by Chris Mann. Wood betony is semi-parasitic and best sown into bare spots among established sedges or grasses.


Grove sandwort is a great groundcover for dry, bright shade like that found under birch, aspen, or oak. It doesn’t take as much foot traffic as plants arising from rosettes, however.


Obligatory monarch on milkweed


Showcasing parasol sedge growing with buffalograss


Showcasing plantain-leaved sedge in full flower


Showcasing pedunculate sedge in flower


The year ends on a grassy note on the front slope. All seasons are different, and that is greatly appreciated by me as I pull over for the mail when I arrive home from work.


Meadow blazingstar with prairie dropseed, side-oats grama, and prairie blazingstar


Ohio horsemint with butterfly milkweed, large-flowered beardtongue, prairie dropseed, and little bluestem


Purple milkweed with butterfly milkweed


Cat’s foot, a reliable host for American lady butterflies in an area that gets walked on a lot


Asters, goldenrods, and royal catchfly with little bluestem and side-oats grama late in the summer


Prairie and meadow blazingstar, little bluestem, prairie dropseed, whild quinine, slender mountain mint, marsh milkweed and American burnett in the swale by the road. This area is swarmed by monarchs when the marsh blazingstar comes into full bloom.


Young planting with wild lupine, prairie dropseed, and large-flowered beardtongue


Smooth rose, Canada anemone, and bracted spiderwort are kept in check by other aggressive plants in the swale and are unable to aggressively spread uphill, because it is too dry and sandy on the slope.


Large-flowered beardtongue


Here are more asters (especially Short’s, Drummond’s, arrow-leaved, smooth blue, and New England) and goldenrods (especially elm-leaved, zig-zag, and showy) under oak along the property line. What you can’t appreciate from the picture is the sound of bumble bees and other native bees, which is audible from about ten feet away.


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Will whip-poor-wills continue to call from the forest edge behind our house or the aspen grove at the cabin up north for long enough for our son to hear them and remember them, so that he might recount them once they are gone, or will last year be the last year we heard them? Spring has become a time of anticipation, but it’s also a time of trepidation. Our landscape has probably already crossed a threshold that dooms these ridiculous gaping-mawed birds, and my hopes are now centered on the lesser goal of projecting their memory a generation or two deeper into posterity. It occurs to me that many of my peers living in eastern North America have never heard a whip-poor-will. Our grandparents have, if they grew up in the humid East outside of the big cities. This brings me sadness, because the whip-poor-will’s call through the afterlight or pre-dawn spring air is truly an earthly delight.


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