Where to Love Madison in the Spring

It's funny how stepping out of your usual surroundings, if only for a few hours, can give you a new sense of clarity and energy. Now that it's nice out, I find myself dying to get outside any chance I can. For some reason it's a stronger pull than in years past, so I made a promise to myself to get outside every day. While I've missed a couple days here and there, I'm happy to report I’m doing pretty well! A couple weeks ago, I visited the Cherokee Marsh Preserve on the north side of Madison. If you've never been, I highly recommend it. Accessible nature is one of the things that makes Madison, Monona, Shorewood Hills, Middleton and our surrounding communities so wonderful. The walk was beautiful, as always, and I had the pleasure of experiencing one of the coolest wildlife encounters. Quietly making my way through the forest, I came across four deer emerging from the woods and onto the path. As soon as I spotted the first one, I froze. She was about to run but instead came closer. Her eyes met my gaze or so it seemed. I've heard that deer don't have great eyesight, so she could have thought I was a stubby, branchless tree trunk, I suppose, but it really felt like we were having a “moment.” Anyway, I remained still, camouflaged in my brown skirt and jacket, and we stared at each other for about a minute before she ran into the adjacent woods. One by one the rest of the deer followed suit. It was truly amazing.

Last week felt a little more chaotic and stressful than usual. Abiding to my promise to get outside daily, I decided to take a leisurely stroll through the Lakeshore Nature Preserve (home of our beloved Picnic Point). While everyone says that Madison is at it's best in the summer, I somewhat disagree. As the ice on our lakes begin to melt and the trees stand leafless against a crisp blue sky, it's hard not to appreciate a different array of urban and natural views that you simply don't get once the leaves fill in. Since I had my camera and nothing but time, I spent my morning on the trails admiring the beauty that is literally steps from the urban bustle of the university and UW hospitals and tucked behind the coveted Shorewood Hills neighborhood.


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Three hours later, I found myself back at the trailhead. Grounded and energized, I grabbed a late lunch and got back to work with a new sense of love for the city I call home. Sure, it may be “small” and imperfect like any other place, but it's a space for anyone and everyone to work, play and find nature. If you find yourself itching to get some fresh air, check out what the Madison area has to offer!