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On Sunday, the Effigy Mounds Initiative was having a cleanup day at Nitschke Mounds. The group primarily focuses on removal of woody invasives, specifically buckthorn. Years ago, the group cut down the old canopy of trees to expose the mounds. However, the removal of the canopy meant invasives could move in, so now they are battling them. Lesson learned.

I took my youngest daughter with me, as she enjoys stewardship work and just being outside. She was disappointed this trip did not take us to Ledge Park because she wanted to do some ledge climbing. The Ledge Park trip was difficult for me, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to fare at Nitschke Mounds.

You see, I have Ehlers-Danlos type 3. Incidentally, May is also Ehlers-Danlos Awareness Month, so I guess this post is timely. Ehlers-Danlos type 3 is commonly known as the hypermobility type, which means I bend in ways I shouldn’t all the time, and it doesn’t take much for me to get a sprain or subluxation. Having this type of Ehlers-Danlos also means I’m at risk for a lot of other comorbid conditions like migraines, asthma, seasonal allergies, and more.  At Ledge I had a bad asthma attack climbing the ledge, which I think was related more to allergies than exercise. At least, I tell myself it was due to allergies and not physical exertion.

I promise you I did not get sidetracked talking about Ehlers-Danlos. It’s important context for today’s tale.

I started off the cleanup day with a couple puffs of my inhaler before cutting the invasives with another volunteer using her saw. I ended up switching to pruning shears to cut the smaller buckthorn, but my daughter continued to help the other volunteer, probably because she liked playing with the volunteer’s dog, Thundaar.  My daughter flitted around, helping with the cutting of invasives, throwing the cut wood into the fire, and roasting marshmallows.

After a while, I needed a break and switched to pulling garlic mustard. Garlic mustard is everywhere at Nitschke Mounds. There are multiple areas greater than 1000 square feet blanketed with it. I spent about an hour and a half pulling, and I got maybe 300 square feet cleared. It’s that dense. The spot I was working on is my featured image, and I obtained the photo from a report I uploaded through my GLEDN app to EDDMaps, which I use to map invasive species (hence the lower quality image).

My daughter was restless, and I had enough, so we decided to leave the group (which was winding down, anyway) and go to the spring. While walking to the spring she mentioned she saw a snake, which wouldn’t be unusual because one had slithered into a wood pile earlier at our restoration site. Shortly after she said that she stepped on a branch, which moved the leaf litter in front of me. Startled by the noise and movement, I reacted by moving before my brain had a chance to realize it was not a snake but the branch I had just seen her step on. Remember that I have hypermobile joints? I rolled my ankle, badly. We’re talking half inch of swelling bad.

Now I’m hobbling along with my daughter profusely apologizing and asking if I need help. At least the springs are close to the car. Being hunched over had given me a great vantage point, though, because I found something different blooming.

downy yellow violet

It might seem strange that a violet is lacking any significant amount of violet. The Downy Yellow Violet, or Yellow Forest Violet, does have deep purple veins, which are somewhat visible in this photo, but I’m sure if asked, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would associate violets with these instead of the Common Blue Violet, at least locally. The Common Blue Violet, also known as the Wood Violet, is our state flower. The Downy Yellow Violet gets its name from the fine downy hairs that cover its stalks and leaves. In Stan Tekeila’s Wildflowers of Wisconsin he mentions that the Downy Yellow Violet is one of the few stalked violets, which differentiates it from many other yellow violets. However, in Wisconsin, I’m not aware of any other yellow violet species, which makes this violet an easy identification.


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