Archive for the ‘audio’ Category

Lake Wingra public art

August 31, 2012

Madisonians and  the Madison Arts Commission got full value from Brenda Baker’s willow and dogwood sculpture in Vilas Park, When Water Was Here. Planned as a six-month installation from Dec. 2007 to June 2008—from  winter solstice to summer  solstice—the art stayed in place until 2011.

The fit of art and location was perfect. The canoe looked at home in the trees, seasonally harmonizing with the oak foliage or looming dramatically over the path. In the podcast below, listen to Brenda talk about deciding where to suspend the canoe, and other artistic and Wingra matters. Also listen to Unseen Madison favorite Charles Brown (as played by a voice actor who may be Gordon) describe the place before it was Vilas Park.

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Dancing Sands podcast

May 22, 2012

Listen to our story of a Lake Wingra spring complex with no fewer than four names, composed of two separately named springs, one of which has a nickname. Confused? We clear things up and show you a beautiful strip of arboretum next to busy Monroe Street.

Edgewood’s lost springs

May 22, 2012

We talk to Edgewood College biology professor Jim Lorman about two Edgewood springs: one was rediscovered, and one reappeared. Even surrounded by city, many Lake Wingra springs still flow. Lake Wingra, we learn, is still surprisingly wild.

To learn more from the podcast, see:

  • Friends of Lake Wingra
  • Cadwallader Washburn, Wisconsin governor (1867-1871) and namesake of Governor’s trout pond
  • The hydrography, fish, and turtle population of Lake Wingra by Wayland Noland
  • Arboretum springs podcast

    May 22, 2012

    Our tour guide, UW arboretum naturalist Kathy Miner, talks about Big Spring, largest of Lake Wingra’s springs with a flow rate around 500 gallons/minute. We also visit Big Spring’s neighbor, White Clay, and learn the history of both springs from Charles Brown, Madison’s outstanding preserver of culture (more on Charlie here and here).

    Horace Tenney’s golden vision

    April 22, 2010

    grandview commonsOn his way to Madison in 1845, Horace Tenney first glimpsed the Isthmus from a knoll near present-day Cottage Grove Rd., just east of the interstate (now Grandview Commons residential development). Horace, brother of Tenney Park donor Daniel Tenney, later became village president (before Madison gained city status in 1856), street superintendent, state legislator, and UW regent. Listen to Tenney’s description of his 1845 view.

    Horace Tenney wrote that “game was profusely abundant” in the Four Lakes area. He “shot prairie chickens on the Capitol Square and the hunting of quail there was common.”

    Note: the background music, “Late Summer Air,” was used in the wonderful 6-part National Parks documentary by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, in which hometown historian Bill Cronon figures prominently. DVDs of the series are at the Madison Public Library. Hear more of Horace Tenney in our Dead Lake Ridge podcast.

    Audio challenge of the week (#10)

    March 30, 2010

    Stroll through the UW arboretum‘s Curtis prairie on an early spring evening right before darkness falls, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the male of this bird species making these distinctive sounds as he performs his spectacular mate-attracting acrobatics. What is the name of this bird? Answers are due by next Monday (how to play the challenge).

    Margaret's council ringWheeler council ring is the answer to last week’s challenge. Jens Jensen designed it to memorialize Kenneth Jensen Wheeler, his grandson, who died in 1935 just before his graduation from the UW. For Jensen, the council ring had deep meaning, symbolizing equality and democracy and having Danish and American Indian roots. Read Jensen’s statement on the plaque of another council ring near the arboretum visitor center.

    Madison has more Jens Jensen connections, including Glenwood Children’s Park and a council ring on the UW campus. Not only is Jensen’s legacy of harmonious landscaping still alive, a PBS documentary is in progress.

    An ancient voice

    March 26, 2010

    sandhill crane

    The sound of sandhill cranes calling from skyward as they return to their summer nesting grounds is one of my favorite signs of spring. I usually hear sandhills well before I glimpse them high in flight, and sometimes I never see them at all. Once perilously close to extinction in the lower 48, the sandhill crane has made an impressive comeback and is now relatively common. Cranes use wetlands for nesting and agricultural land for foraging (Baraboo’s International Crane Foundation is a good place to learn more).

    And there’s something about their call that stirs the imagination: haunting and ancient at the same time, it’s a southern Wisconsin version of the Northwoods call of the loon. Both species have been around for a very long time, with the sandhill representing one of the oldest surviving bird species, unchanged for at least several million years. It’s as if that ancient lineage can still be heard in their voice.

    Aldo Leopold wrote powerfully of cranes in A Sand County Almanac essay called Marshland Elegy:

    “When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia…”

    Photo challenge of the week (#9)

    March 23, 2010

    photo of week 9This week’s challenge presents two photos from the same tucked-away landmark. The photo at left (click to enlarge) shows where the plaque is. Another clue: the designer of this 1938 limestone memorial also designed Madison’s Glenwood Children’s Park. Worthy of a story in his own right, he was born on a large farm in Denmark, served in the Prussian Imperial Guard, immigrated to America when his family disapproved of him marrying someone (they felt) beneath their class, worked as street sweeper for the Chicago parks district—and then became a renowned landscape architect. What is this rock feature? Answers are due by next Monday (how to play the challenge).

    photo of week 9aListen below to audio from the same location. Singing cardinals don’t give away the answer, but the sound of gently flowing water is suggestive!

    Our previous photo challenge asked for the location of this effigy mound group (mounds in gray, including the block-long bird, no longer exist). The two remaining mounds overlook Lake Monona in Hudson Park, near Harry Whitehorse’s now-bronze Effigy Tree sculpture.

    Lake Mendota ice hike

    March 19, 2010

    It’s hard to imagine now that spring is in the air, but just a couple short weeks ago, Lake Mendota—and the other Madison lakes—felt like frozen arctic tundra. We can attest to this firsthand, as we took a lovely hike on the ice around Picnic Point and Frautschi Point. We were struck by the sense of vastness and solitude we encountered right in the middle of the city, and wondered how many Madisonians have had the chance to experience this wide and transitory landscape.

    Sharon Barbour, winter trekker extraordinaire and friend of Unseen Madison, joined us as we stumbled upon a few of Mendota’s hidden treasures. Here Sharon talks—of her own free will, we swear—about the hike and our sterling qualities.

    Governor’s trout pond

    February 6, 2010

    We continue our Lake Wingra tour at Deep Hole spring, just up the Edgewood boardwalk from New Millennium spring. The name fits: in the 1870s, Wisconsin governor Cadwallader Washburn walled in Deep Hole to raise trout, a coldwater fish. In our century the spring has been reclaimed from thick brush that obscured it. Unseen Madison hero Charles Brown described Deep Hole spring in 1927:

    “This large spring was on the very edge of and partly in the lake itself. It was surrounded by rushes and was at times a retreat for large fish. Governor Washburn when he lived at Edgewood caused it to be stoned in and stocked with trout, and it was commonly spoken of as Governor Washburn’s trout pond.”

    To say Cadwallader Washburn led a full life is an understatement. He donated the Edgewood villa to the Sinsinawa Dominican Sisters, who formed an academy that became Edgewood.

    Home of a giant snapping turtle?

    January 29, 2010

    Listen to Jim Lorman, biology and environmental studies professor at Edgewood and chair of Friends of Lake Wingra, give a clue about this week’s photo challenge. In the photo, Jim stands at center, flanked by David Thompson (left) and our own Gordon (right).

    Visiting Nine Mounds in Verona with quiz winner

    November 12, 2009

    Recently our September quiz winner, Mirna Santana, collected her prize: spending a wet morning with Gordon and Jeff in Verona. Thanks to Mirna’s good company it was more fun than it sounds. Our modest mission was to find the reason for Nine Mound Road in Verona. We supposed there had been nine effigy mounds nearby, and it turns out that “Nine Mounds” stood on a hilltop near the Sugar River, a little west of today’s Nine Mound Road (click map to enlarge). The mounds were probably plowed under in the 1880s.

    After our Dead Lake Ridge podcast we couldn’t help noticing the massive quarry operations along Nine Mound Rd. Unlike Dead Lake Ridge, here the quarries had nothing to do with the destruction of the mounds. The quarries mine sand and gravel from the outwash of the Johnstown moraine, the farthest reach of the last glacier. The moraine is easy to see at Prairie Moraine county park. Listen to audio from our trip:

    Dead Lake Ridge podcast

    October 20, 2009

    Our new podcast could be about a humble and charming Madison landmark — but it’s not. Listen to the story of a dramatic place, Dead Lake Ridge, with a dramatic appearance: “a ridge of considerable elevation the crest of which is serrated by a series of ancient monuments of earthwork.” The ridge was in the middle of the city and overlooked Madison’s lakes and isthmus until the early 1900s. Its destruction was “a crime which should never have been perpetrated.”

    More excerpts from Effigy Tree ceremony

    October 8, 2009

    Bill Barker, President of the Madison Parks Commission, talks about the sculpture’s significance to himself and to the neighborhood as a whole.

    Gordon Thunder, brother of Effigy Tree sculptor Harry Whitehorse and master of ceremonies at the re-dedication event, talks about the history and cultural traditions of the Ho-Chunk nation.

    Traditional drumming and singing by the Thundercloud Singers, with an introduction by Gordon Thunder.

    Effigy Tree re-dedication ceremony on Sept. 26

    September 29, 2009

    At Saturday’s formal re-dedication ceremony in Hudson Park on the east side of Madison, where the bronzed incarnation of the Effigy Tree sculpture now resides, area residents and the artist himself tell the story of the sculpture’s creation, its significance to the community, and how the neighborhood pulled together to save it from destruction. Unseen Madison reports…