About

Assuming Marquette County, Wisconsin was flat as a good registered Holstein cow’s back, and I was in a walking mood I’d be standing on the boyhood farm property of John Muir in approximately an hour. Long legs and an easy stride could accomplish this.

The small hard-scrabble Wisconsin farm gave the world the beginnings of John Muir that would later attain international celebrity. His, whose mind and soul was already shaped by his environment on that now extinct farm straight across the bog.

There is nothing between our properties, in fact, but a straight line I’ve drawn on a Wisconsin State Atlas. No farms, no homes, no subdivisions. On Muir’s end, the farmhouse has been gone for seventy years or so, burned by vandals. The home lot is private property and not open to visitors. It does, however, abut the public John Muir Memorial County Park.

There is a prairie reconstruction, sometimes good, sometimes for the worse, in the County Park dedicated by the Sierra Club to its founding father, John Muir. Muir is most famous for California, and a great chunk of its adjacent northern and southern continental walks. However, once you’ve read his boyhood writings of Wisconsin you’ll discover that here he planted and grew his roots, gained study habits, love of environment, and the beginnings of his education.

There is a prairie reconstruction, sometimes good, sometimes not as good depending on the year, on the property  which I use for much of my photographic and spiritual models.

Could I fly like the Bald Eagles which use my house roof for homing to the bog for a long, spiral cut on morning’s warming currents, I’d still be a straight line of five or so miles from Muir’s old home farm site. Cut the spiral ride, lose the thrill, and I’d be there in under fifteen minutes.

Walking a bog is an obstacle course only to be completed by the long of limb and very small of feet. Wild turkeys run along the edges. Deer prefer to follow the watercourses. Humans of fair mind and sound limb tend to turn back after twenty feet of sinking to their knees in remnant ice age peat only to stumble over the rounded mounds of big, healthy sedge grasses stretching forever into the distance.

Aldo Leopold lived and wrote from his Sand County Shack 35 miles from here. His conservation and empathy for the animals he once abhorred, and those he watched disappear, remind me that even a once dedicated animal hunter will reverse his thinking if he but watch. To those who may think Wisconsin is the backwater of civilization, and a Wisconsin photographer has nothing to contribute, let this remind them that there would be no conservation movement, no National Park system, no Earth Day, and no international group returning and saving nearly extinct bird to the wilds.

Wisconsin’s environmental riches, spurred by John Muir and Aldo Leopold, the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, the International Crane Foundation, Operation Migration,  and others, presented generations with the reasons to rethink, challenge, change, and to record wild and endangered portions of the world the public has come to know through photography.

I’ve been mentored by the written and recorded oral histories of Wisconsin’s fathers’ of conservation. I’m dedicated to preserving wilderness, public, national, and endangered portions of Wisconsin for the world to experience through photography.

32 thoughts on “About

    1. I’ll very much enjoy your experiences. I bought my, now 14 year old, horse with an untreated injury that had left her lame. Although physically sound, we’ve been working for over three years to retrain her brain from “I can’t do this” to I think I can, I think I can”. I found a wonderful equine body worker who performs miracles on her and we were well on the way to never looking back. Then a new horse kicked a severe warning regarding her Alpha status. Three months later we’re still working through another painful setback. Horses are reflections of ourselves, they so appreciate the care and communication we share with them.

      1. Yes, they do. And kudos to you for having the patience, concern and desire to see your dear girl back to health. All the best to you and I hope she is mended soon. Thanks for sharing. … Be well, Dorothy

  1. Hey Charly! Thanks for following my blog “Reflections.” I think you should know, however, that I’ve closed it and will not be adding any more posts. My new blog “In So Many Words …” , started after I married earlier this year, can be found at http://www.dorothychiotti.com if you’re interested in following me there. All the “deep” thoughts I care to share can be found there. (How poetic … 😉 … ) … Be well, Dorothy 🙂

  2. Hi, I was just browsing through the blogs when I saw yours, I liked your entry, I just wanted to tell you that the header part of your blog remains static even when we scroll down to read the blog, if it’s customized like that then its fine but I thought I should inform you about this. 🙂

    1. Thanks for visiting. At present that’s the way I set it up. Originally the header scrolled with the blog. As postings accumulated it appeared confusing since I used quite a bit of photography in my postings. I’m still a newb at this and as I learn I may change it once again. I’ve also found my original audience has shifted and future slants may change the focus. It’s an entirely new world for me. Thanks for your input.

  3. Some inspiration! Some examples! Some mentors! You are indeed fortunate to tread in their footsteps. Tread wisely, as I’m sure you do! Keep the flame burning.

    Thanks for following OMBH… I am privileged to have you along!

    1. I’m so happy to have you along for the journey. On a day like today, rainy, drab, totally yucky by modern standards, I marvel at the joy my ‘mentors’ found in their simple lives among similar surroundings. Oh how we have changed. Yet research shows people are happiest in countries that have the least. I think need to do some exploring on ‘getting priorities in order’ lol.

  4. John Muir, Aldo Leopold, the Whooping cranes…it’s not just cheese, is it?! This a very thoughtful, well written “About.” Thanks for your visit and kind comments. Be well!

  5. I did not know there was a Marquette County in Wisconsin. Learn something new everyday in the blogging world! We live about 80 miles from Marquette, Michigan.

    1. Yes, it’s in south-central Wisconsin. Named for the same explorer who passed through here via the Fox River from Green Bay to a narrow strip of land that is now the very small city of Portage, WI. At that spot they picked up the Wisconsin River and went downstream to the Mississippi River. As they say, the rest is history. 🙂

  6. I love the title of your blog, from one of my favourite poets. Thank you for visiting and choosing to follow my blog. I too, love taking photographs and look forward to following your blog too. 🙂

  7. Hello, Charly Makray-Rice,
    It looks like I’m sharing a muse or two or more, with you: Wisconsin, John Muir, Marquette County, Whooping Cranes(!), Aldo Leopold, – they all work for me, as I see they do for you. It was the cranes, though that triggered the whole thing for me. I just discovered Marquette County (more whooping cranes than stop lights?) in January when writing about the WI Friends of John Muir, as well as the great Muir himself. I am thoroughly enjoying the reporting of all this. And now I’m grateful to have discovered your explorations over here, and the artistic lens you use to look at it all. Was very moved by your About page, Thank you for coming to “The Badger & the Whooping Crane;” I hope you’ll come back whenever you can, and I hope that’s often.

    By the way, looking at some of your photos (“Seeing Red” for example) reminded me of the blog of a Green Bay photographer that I sometimes follow – “Wabi Sabi”. You might enjoy her work, maybe share some insights; it’s just a guess (I’m obviously not a photographer, myself!), but I’m passing the info along, just in case.

    1. Thank you, and I will look up ‘Wabi Sabi’. I just finished reading Joe Duff’s posting on the removal of 01-01 for the second time. I remember when the land owner posted her first remarks about her pride in caring for her ‘birds’. Of course, at that time, there was no indication she was actually feeding them. This is sad from so many angles. I find myself upset because I can’t cure one problem in the world, and end up overwhelmed with all the disorders and problems looking for resolution. Funny, in all my years in Wisconsin I’ve only seen one badger! I will to visit your blog often.
      m be

  8. Hello Charly,
    I’m so glad you visited my blog and gave it a “follow” because that lead me to your blog. I enjoy your writing voice, photography, and respect for nature. It will be fun to learn more about Wisconsin ecology and so I’m going to find your “follow” button right now 🙂
    ❤ Jane

  9. Charly,
    Your words and photos are magic and I’m a little breathless this morning. Isn’t that crazy? It seems so forward to say that to a stranger, but I’m captivated by your subjects…I spend a lot of time taking similar photos with completely different (and amateur) results. I’m so glad you stopped by my site yesterday and took the time to comment and read…it lead me right here to you!
    Michelle

    1. … and I’m thinkin’ your photography lead me to your amazing word wizardry! My muse flits in and out, fickle critter that it is, and there are times it entirely hides from me. I suspect it wanders behind dusty books on my office shelf, or is in my dresser drawer stealing socks so there will never be a matching pair to be made. I will always be a beginner, start-over, in the process of, I wonder if I, thinking sort of person. My favorite painting is Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth, always reaching toward the horizon, never running into life as some do. Now retired, and slowed with fibromyalgia, some days I have to shake the old brain cells like light sticks to activate them. Your blog is reminder for me to continue to think! I’m so happy we’ve met 🙂

      1. Hello again, Charly!
        You will be interested to know that your “flitful muse” has me mesmerized. Just reading about dusty books and dresser drawer stealing socks makes my heart rate slow to a happy, calm rate. Your writing is soothing…just like your pictures.
        And, forgive me for seeming like a stalker, but I had to respond immediately. In fact, I still have goose bumps after reading about your favorite painting.
        Christina’s World is the gravitar picture for one of my dearest blogging friends…she goes by Christina’s Words and blogs at three different sites and one of my favorites is here: http://wordsfortheyear.com/2014/08/21/witches-like-saints-are-solitary-stars-that-shine/
        You can also find her on my “favorites” page.
        I’m so happy that we’ve met, too! Things happen for a reason, right? 🙂

      2. WOW OH WOWEE … my muse must have found you, lol! Yes, there is a great web in the universe that links us for a greater purpose beyond, ‘Yuck, it’s a spider!’. Please send me the links to her other blogs as well.

      3. Tee! Hee! Your spider comment made me laugh out loud!
        Here are Christy’s links–she’s amazing 🙂

        Main blog: runningonsober.com

        Weekend poetry/passage/art/photography compilation: wordsfortheweekend.com

        Daily poetry/passages/music:wordsfortheyear.com

        I can’t even say which is my favorite–they all fill little voids in their own way. She’s had me as a guest on Running on Sober and I’ve added some photography to her weekend site. She’s generous, kind, intelligent and a bit of a legend in her parts. I know you’ll love her, too!
        Michelle

    1. The pleasure is mine. I love the way you capture your world. I’m in the very early stage of working with textures, so finding other photographers that use them well is inspirational. 🙂

  10. Your “about” makes me want to go there…or at the least, get off my butt and go wander my own paradise in the mountains northeast of Spokane with new eyes!! Thanks for the inspiration. I think I’ll go call the turkeys. It is almost mating time and that is a spectacular site! Thanks!

    1. It’s probably the best season for hopping sedges, at least now the edges are easy to spot. On the down side, it probably requires hip waders and a backup team in case of a misstep into a peat bog. I would love to see the flight shot with a drone! Google Earth is a pretty good view. Put in John Muir Memorial Park, Montello, WI and it should come up. Then take the earth view. Have fun!

  11. Thank you for visiting my blog. That is how I found yours. I grew up in Wisconsin and until last year, my family had a summer cottage in northern Wisconsin. It was exhilarating and peaceful to spend time there. The things I loved most were the sounds of the loons on the lake and thunderstorms, which sometimes came and went gently and other times came violently, lashing the trees and causing power outages. Either way, the proximity to nature was always rejuvenating. I always considered Wisconsin to be one of the most beautiful places in the USA. It lacks the grandeur of the Grand Canyon or tall redwood trees, but its beauty lies in the fresh air, the greenness of summer, the brilliant colors of fall, the blue of the lakes and the smell of pine.

    I miss the loons and the thunderstorms. Of course we have thunderstorms here in suburban Chicago, but I can never recapture the feel of the rain pouring down all around me, the smell of the wet forest, the feeling of being totally surrounded by nature’s glory. Thanks for the appreciation of my home state.

    1. Thank for visiting. You took the opposite route. I grew up in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Went to HS on the border of Old Town. My father loved Wisconsin and I drew that from him. We only see loons for a couple of days during spring migration. We’re too far south. We have the reintroduced Whooping Cranes in our county though. They’re still rare, unless you know where to look. I get up too late to find them – and I know where they are, lol! It is terrific living where other people dream of vacationing. As hubby says, we live in a freaking park! Woodlands, prairie, and wetlands, a couple of blocks from the Fox River. Wish I could bottle the next rain for you.

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