Little Known Fact Series #1: The Wisconsin Connection to the Niagara Escarpment.

Little Known Fact Series #1: The Wisconsin Connection to the Niagara Escarpment.

Today, I introduce a new series. It will join my Enrichment Posts, Have you Ever? and  Silent Sundays as a recurring themed post on my blog. This series will be called the Little Known Fact Series.

A few days ago I drove across the northern part of Wisconsin from our cabin to an art gallery in a town called Amery. Our cabin is in the north-central part of the state, while Amery is on the north-western part of the state. My husband’s smart phone GPS guided me on the way. While traversing our State, Keith Urban’s throaty singing and guitar skills on his older CD – Golden Road – kept me occupied. It is a beloved CD and I alway enjoy listening to it while I travel on the open road.

Beautiful Wisconsin

Wisconsin is beautiful. Growing up in New York State, I never imagined living here. It was as foreign to me as Russia!  But, having lived here for almost 20 years now, I really have a hard time thinking about living anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, New York State has its beautiful areas as well – the Adirondack Mountains, the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier – where I first went to college, New York City with all its culture, lights and excitement, the varied architecture found in the great City of Buffalo,  the mansions of George Eastman, and the lilacs blooming in May in Highland Park in Rochester or Strong Memorial Hospital, The Strong Museum, and the University of Rochester all cannot be beat in my opinion.

I’ve also lived and or worked in Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania and there are great attributes to those places as well. But, Wisconsin has won my heart. The diversity of landscape from the Bluffs and Coulees in the Driftless Region, unaffected by the last push of the receding glaciers during our most recent ice age, to the flat open prairie you find just up the road and a county over in Trempealeau where you can easily imagine hearty pioneers hunkering down during our harsh winters, or wildflowers covering acres and acres of land, and finally to the edge of the Great Muddy – with views that never cease to inspire awe. And, those descriptions just cover the part of the state where I live. One does not have to go far in Wisconsin to find a shoreline, either of river or stream, or even a Great Lake or two (Michigan and Superior). The quaintness of Door County is a constant tourist draw as is the heritage and history found in some of our largest cities, such as Madison and Milwaukee.

But, would you believe that there is a geographic wonder that connects where I came from and where I am?! There is! While living as newly weds in the Buffalo area, we made frequent trips to Niagara Falls. It was always enjoyable to spend an afternoon in the falls – either on the Canadian or U.S. side of the Niagara River. Some visits were more satisfying that others, of course, but the power of the water flowing over the gorge never ceased to amaze one upon sight! In The Falls, as any local Western New Yorker might call it, white water roars past and a lightest touch of a fine mist covers your skin, all while you stand by viewing water falls that were once considered a place one must see in the course of a lifetime.

Niagara Falls as viewed from the Canadian side, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2008

The Little Known Fact

The commonality rests within this place! The Niagara Escarpment is a little known 1,000 – mile cliff that runs from East Central Wisconsin to the great gorge yielding Falls in Canada and New York State.  Or, maybe the Escarpment runs from the Niagara River Gorge to the Door County Peninsula and into central Wisconsin! It goes both ways!  Not surprisingly, like the Driftless area of Wisconsin, the Niagara Escarpment was influenced during the last glacial advancement.  It was then that the escarpment was exposed and also then that the glaciers did not reach the driftless region – leaving such a topography that one can with a striking resemblance!

So, no wonder I love Wisconsin, there is much to remind me here of my roots! German heritage, impressive bodies of water, and the Niagara Escarpment and all the topographical wonders that come with it!  Who knew?! I am so glad I know this now!

As as far as the connection to the lyrics in that Keith Urban song, I think Wisconsin has some of the prettiest country from Niagara Falls to the Door County Peninsula. (Don’t worry if you don’t get this – true Keith Urban fans will understand!)

For more on this topic, you can consult the following resources: (cool map included)

Silent Sunday: Wisconsin Scenes In April

Silent Sunday: Wisconsin Scenes In April

© Carol Labuzzetta, Grand Dad’s Bluff, La Crosse, 2018
Mississippi River – Black River Confluence – Lake Onalaska © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Mississippi River from The Great River Road, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
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After a Late April Snow Storm. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
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Peachy April Sunrise, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Mississippi River Crossing to Winona MN, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
New Zinnia Plants, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
Growth in the Garden = Spring, © Carol Labuzzetta, 2018
WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered in Wisconsin, New York, Holland, & Bermuda

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Weathered in Wisconsin, New York, Holland, & Bermuda

Weathered, ramshackle barn in Western New York. 2017.


wmSpring 17 sunrise fog
Spring Fog Weathering the Coulee, 2017.
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Weathered Rocks on the Shore of Lake Michigan in Door County, 2016.
wm government building in delft old and ornate
Old and Ornate Government Building in Delft, The Netherlands, 2016.
The Pier at Scheveningen gets weathered from the North Sea in Den Haag, The Netherlands.
The Maid of the Mist is Weathered in Niagara Falls! 2008.
wmTabaccoBayBermuda2017 copy
Tobacco Bay, Bermuda. limestone rock formations have weathered with time. 2017.


These are my submissions for the Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Weathered.

Thanks for visiting!

Living in the Midwest: Grasslands

Living in the Midwest: Grasslands

Fall is a beautiful time in the midwest, especially when the sun is out and the air is crisp with a touch of coolness, foreshadowing the winter yet to come. Although it has barely been forty degrees each of the last two days, I have worked outside, preparing some garden beds for winter.

Yesterday, I stopped by a piece of land preserved some years ago by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy.  My Environmental History course has a project requirement as the final and I choose to find out more about this locally based organization that has been protecting lands in the Driftless area of Wisconsin since 1997.  The acquisition of the New Amsterdam Grasslands was one of the first sites earmarked for preservation.


It occurred because a DNR employee, who was also one of the founders of the Mississippi Valley Conservancy, had been noticing bird activity in the area (a few hundred acres) when driving past this site to work.  Fortunately, a financial backer stepped forward to allow the conservancy to purchase the grassland site and also protect the endangered and threatened bird species living and reproducing in the habitat.


Over the last two weeks, I  have collected a great deal of information on the Mississippi Valley Conservancy. I even visited the archive room at the local public library! Knowing that interviews are important to lend first hand accounts to the story at hand, I attempted to contact one of the founders of this group. But, yesterday, I stopped by the New Amsterdam Grasslands – only one of the local pieces preserved by the MVC – to take some photographs to ad to my presentation.  It was on my way home from an appointment I had earlier in the day and I wanted to see how it was marked, for I have driven the road the entry is on many times and never saw the marker. At first I drove past it, but sitting quite a bit off toad, I found the trailhead.



As you can see, it was a beautiful fall day! The New Amsterdam Grasslands is only one type of land that the MVC protects. There are wetlands, bluffs, and more. I am sure the photos will add greatly to my presentation. And, you can be sure that I will be hiking some of the MVC trails when it is a little warmer out!  Who will be joining me?


WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian

Bridge in Ames, Iowa Park, 2015. © Carol Labuzzetta
Street in Delft, The Netherlands. Definitely made for Walking. © Carol Labuzzetta
Red Dirt Trail on Kauai, 2013. © Carol Labuzzetta
“This is our walkin’ path,” says the Pelican. Florida Keys, 2010. © Carol Labuzzetta
On the Strees of Madison, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012
Alternatively, Uninspired. Monk Seal, Kauai. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2013
2004 SevenBridgesRoad
Spring at Seven Bridges Road, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2004
Madison Wisconsin Pizza Place. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2012.
Riverside Park, La Crosse, Wisconsin. © Carol Labuzzetta


trail to the lighthouse Bermuda17
Stairs in Bermuda. © Carol Labuzzetta, 2017.

Inspired by the  Weekly WordPress Photo Challenge: Pedestrian


What is a MGV? Why do we matter?

What is a MGV? Why do we matter?

It is that time of year again. Master Gardener Volunteer (MVG) hours are due. Since 2004, I have spent the last couple weeks in September recording my continuing education and volunteer hours to maintain my Master Gardener Volunteer Certification. Collecting enough volunteer hours has never been a problem with my history of running a community garden club for elementary students based at one of our schools. Hundreds of hours were spent each year preparing lessons, initiating and maintaining communication with teachers and parents, creating handouts, putting up bulletin boards, and finally teaching the lessons and activities.  I gave all that up in June. You might be wondering where I will get my hours from now.

Fortunately, I am finding that it will not be difficult to meet the minimum number of volunteer hours to maintain my Master Gardener Volunteer certification in good standing.  Slowly, over the last few years, really starting in 2014, I have been able to grow my network. This has included applying for conference presenter positions, being invited to be a conference speaker, being an invited classroom speaker – in our district and others, and being an invited community speaker for special occasions like environmental day or a pollinator festival.

When I speak to groups, I let them know that part of the mission as a Master Gardener is to share horticultural knowledge with our communities, and that is what brings me to them – my ability to share information on topics in a passionate, engaging way.  Master gardeners are an important part of our communities in Wisconsin, and other states, as well.  The annual report put out by the Wisconsin Master Gardener organization compiles the important contributions, including financial, for each county.  I encourage you to take  a look at the report. I was thrilled to find my former group listed on page 48.  You might be surprised at all the contributions being made around the state. I can personally account for the youth education hours for the most part, but many other contributions were made as well. Did you know that the current monetary valuation for volunteer time in Wisconsin is $22.48 per hour, according to the above report? Wow! That adds up! Each MGV is expected to perform 24 volunteer hours and obtain 10 hours of approved continuing education hours each year. Even if the minimum number of hours are performed, at the above rate, that is $2,248.00 being contributed to the community in time and expertise, per individual volunteer! This is, in part, why I keep beating the drum about thanking people in the community for what they do! It is important we/they feel valued. It cannot be overstated.

And, although our group has received less and less state funding, along with more and more positions cut, this dedicated association of gardeners keeps plowing ahead, without pay, with their mission to educate, enrich, and enhance our lives with the selfless giving of time, energy, and information. On a state level, in Wisconsin, it is estimated that Master Gardener service to their communities is estimated at a total of 4.5 million dollars!  I am proud to be part of such a group.

So, while I do not really care for tabulating my hours each year, I do it. I do it because I want to continue to make a difference by being part of this group. I do it so I can continue to be asked, or to be able to offer, to speak on a subject that I care about because I truly believe in the mission.   My motivation for this year is that I will be part of the Spring Into Gardening conference in our city, next March.  After presenting at the State Master Gardener Conference in 2015 and the International Master Gardener Conference later the same year, I did not hesitate to jump at the opportunity to speak with a more local group of interested community members.

Master gardeners matter because we work hard to enrich our communities. We work alone, as part of groups, as your neighbor, as your friend, as an educator, and as your partner in learning how to live sustainably by returning to nature, getting our hands dirty, and sharing our bounty – whether that be words of knowledge, inspiration or baskets of vegetables and plant divisions.  Master gardeners are volunteers in the best sense of the word, always giving, and taking very little back in return. So, if you know a Master Gardener Volunteer, thank them for their contribution, for it is far greater than you think.



Silent Sunday: Last Summer in Door County, Wisconsin

Silent Sunday: Last Summer in Door County, Wisconsin

Coastline in Cave Point County Park
Cave Point County Park Rock Piles
Sunrise on Lake Michigan
Lighthouse in Penninsula State Park
Great Food. Great Iced Tea.