John Bates

About the Artist

John Bates is the author of seven books and a contributor to seven others, all of which focus on the natural history of the Northwoods. He’s worked as a naturalist in Wisconsin’s Northwoods for 22 years, leading an array of trips all designed to help people further understand the remarkable diversity and beauty of nature, and our place within it. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for the Wisconsin Nature Conservancy and the Wisconsin Humanities Council. John won the 2006 Ellis/Henderson Outdoor Writing Award from the Council for Wisconsin Writers for his book Graced by the Seasons: Spring and Summer in the Northwoods. John and his wife Mary live on the Manitowish River in Iron County where they raised two daughters

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Late April

Late April when the sun’s rays suddenly warm,

the snowmelt comes fast

and then we’re awash in water,

the little streams gorged,

spilling over banks, into the woods, the wetlands,

a spring tsunami of water pulsing everywhere.

The air saturates, too.

Fogs drip every morning,

so damp it’s like wearing a wet rag all day.

Then the frost goes out of the ground

and it’s mud season

when everything slurries.

Now little rivulets cascade everywhere through the hills

rushing on to Lake Superior,

water spilling everywhere,

everything running down, down,

all different sounds as the water

rumbles over rocks

and is a softness through the leaves.

Forest, lake, river all meet

mingling the mud and leaves and branches and stones

all in one pulse

that will last into mid-May when

the warblers and the wildflowers will announce a halt

to the trains of water,

and everything will settle in its new place

ready for the green-up,

the transformation

of sun, soil, and water

into spring.

2 responses

  1. Bob Edgington

    John,
    Thank you very mcuh for your presentation about the lakes and ponds of Northern Wisconsin. I spent several hours looking for the lakes listed from your handout and located them in my gazetter for this summer’s use. The list is very interesting and I am eager to put our kayaks onto these waters. Do you have any suggestions for canoeing the head waters of the Wisconsin? I would like to do that as well this summer. Thank you for your very interesting and informative writings.

    Sincerely yours,

    Bob Edgington

    edgingto@westosha.k12.wi.us

    03/19/2013 at 12:47 pm

    • John Hermanson

      John- I just wanted to thank you for your early spring poem. I got to read it this last day of April. Thanks for sharing what you experience so knuckle heads like me can enjoy what we have at our feet. -John Hermanson

      05/01/2014 at 12:31 am

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