Wonder Walk #1: Hawthorn Glen

A glen is a noun meaning a narrow valley. Hawthorn Glen is the name of my favorite spot by my house. The first time I happened upon this place I thought I had entered some cinderella-esque land where the birds and the chipmunks might actually speak to me. It’s a nature preserve just a few blocks away from my home, nestled in the glen before the Menomonee River. The land is tucked between Milwaukee and Tosa, just between Washington Heights (up on a hill) and the Valley Forge (south of the river) neighborhoods.

Lively pond in late summer at the glen

All of this land is traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee homeland, along the southwest shores of Michigami, North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes, where the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present. 

One of the reasons I cherish this space is because it is one of the only preserves in the city and throughout the grounds they recognize that this is native land. When you’re in the glen, as I like to call it, it feels like you could be just for a moment trekking down from the hill to the river to fish or collect water. I always like to put an emphasis on the PRESERVE aspect because that’s what it feels like; it’s quiet and serene and the winding paths through the trees give a sense of safety and purpose that a concrete sidewalk along a cracked asphalt road will never provide. 

The stewards of Hawthorn Glen have been working in that space since 1937 to preserve varied habitats where native species thrive. They also cultivate spaces for Monarch butterflies, bees, insects, and they now have a tree nursery to help sustain the forest. It always simultaneously warms and breaks my heart to walk by their wild bird recuperation center – there are often a mix of duck and geese friends in there recovering from an injury before they are set about into the wild again. There’s an awesome playground in there and a full-sized soccer field. So yeah– it pretty much contains all of my favorite things. 

My absolute favorite part of the glen is the resident wild turkey there who enjoys waddling about in the prairie near the nursery or by the nature center. She’s seems old and so large– I adore her. She avoids children like the plague but somehow they always find her. Every time I see her, she makes a beeline for me. She doesn’t want me to touch her, I can sense that – but she just wants to be near. Some company. She’s like a cat in that way, and I think like cats, she can sense that I will respect her sovereignty. And now that she’s been near enough a handful of times and has yet to bite or headbutt me, I trust her, too. 

One or both of my weekly wonder walks are often here. It is probably the place I am most fond of here in Milwaukee and so, as part of my ‘Place Poetry’ project in conjunction with documenting my Wonder Walks, I thought it was pretty apt to write an ode poem.  

It’s linked there above and can be found on my poetry page. If you like more multimedia content of the blog and of the poem here are some options from my Instagram, YouTube and TikTok pages: 

  1. A simple reading edition – just my face as I read the poem.
  2. A video-poem edition that more artfully shows the space.
  3. And a mini-vlog version of this blog – it reads entirely different but gets at all the things I love about it, just in a visual format.

Thanks for reading this far and coming along on this journey with me.








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