The Fires of Renewal

Winter Solstice celebration at Olbrich only missing pretty snow cover

The twice annual Solstice bonfire at Olbrich Park. This celebrated the Winter Solsice. December 22, 2015.

The Winter Solstice bonfire, part of a twice annual Solstice celebration held at Olbrich Park on December 22, 2015.

The Solstice is one of the more accessible and life affirming holidays celebrated in Madison and it occurs twice a year! Centered around the astronomical cycles of the sun and the earth, the Solstice is a recognition and reaffirmation of our connection to Mother Earth.

The history of the Solstice reminds us that it is not a single deity or a collection of them that truly drives our existence; it is the natural rhythms of the earth that shaped humanity over time. This recognition is very popular in Madison with many Solstice celebrations held around the city.

Our northern city endures the ravages of winter and the tradition of a bonfire is attractive to our residents as, like in pre-Christian times, it signifies the return of heat and light from the sun after it has spent six months retreating from us.

Continue reading

Gallery: Snowmageddon 2012

Snowmageddon 2012

Images of the Wil-Mar and SASY neighborhoods during and after Snowmageddon 2012, December 19-21, 2012.

[img src=]8550
All is calm at the intersection of Ingersoll and Jenifer Streets Thursday December 20, 2012 after the snow had completed its 24 hour assault on the Madison area.
[img src=]1790
Residents in the 900 block of Jenifer took advantage of the wet snow during the storm and built this Snow Family. A day later on December 21, 2012 the stand strong in the brilliant winter sun.
[img src=]1950
The heavy wet snows bowed many branches and numerous tree arches adorned Marquette Neighborhood sidewalks.
[img src=]1620
[img src=]1520
B. B. Clarke Beach, a warm weather spot, still looks inviting on the day of the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012.
[img src=]1150
B. B. Clarke Beach, a warm weather spot, still looks inviting on the day of the Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012.
[img src=]960
The unique roof of the B. B. Clarke Beach shelter collects a perfect layer of snow.
[img src=]1080
A day after Snomageddon 2012, the neighborhood was a veritable Ice Forest, dazzling in the sun of the Winter Solstice.
[img src=]890
[img src=]910
[img src=]930
[img src=]960
[img src=]950
[img src=]840
[img src=]780
Irony...Caribbean style.
[img src=]790
All things are equal in the Marquette Neighborhood, even the genders of snow people.
[img src=]760
This house endured a serious lashing but endured.
[img src=]940
It did not take long for sledders on the Olbrich sledding hill to transform the 13.4 inches of fresh snow into a well groomed run.
[img src=]830
[img src=]840
A solitary soul looks toward the sunset in a moment of quiet reflection only minutes before sunset on Winter Solstice, December 21, 2012.
[img src=]820
Ice candles are laid out in preparation for the Winter Solstice Celebration put every year by the Friends of Starkweather Creek.
[img src=]780
A view up the hill in the 1000 block of Jenifer Street, Thursday December 20, 2012.
[img src=]780
The Solstice Bonfire pyre is ready to herald the renewal of the season.
[img src=]680
4:26 p.m. December 21, 2012. Official sunset on the shortest day of 2012.
[img src=]690
Marquette neighborhood in the hours after Snowmageddon 2012.
[img src=]660
Snow people stand sentry in the 900 block of Willy Street.
[img src=]620
Willy Street in the hours after Snowmageddon 2012.
[img src=]770
Willy Street in the hours after Snowmageddon 2012.
[img src=]650
Willy Street in the hours after Snowmageddon 2012.
[img src=]640
Willy Street in the hours after Snowmageddon 2012.
[img src=]270
Wet snow all day on December 20, 2012 fell mostly straight down until the evening when the wind picked-up and the temperature dropped.
[img src=]290
The traffic lights at Ingersoll and Willy soldier on in the face of a snowy gale.
[img src=]320
Patterson and Jenifer Streets on December 21, 2012. Even the side streets were relatively passable only 12 hours after the snows had stopped.
[img src=]350
[img src=]270
Dreaming of Big Blue. Canoes at the ready for summertime, but a bevy of wintertime activities await once the surface is frozen.

Images of the Wil-Mar and SASY neighborhoods during and after Snowmageddon 2012, December 19-21, 2012.

See more from the SASYNA facebook page

Winter Solstice Celebration

The 10th anniversary of the Starkweather Solstice Bonfire is at dusk (4:30 pm) on Friday, Dec 21 at the Olbrich Park ball diamond.

This is the 21st event (twice a year).  Volunteers are welcome.  No weather postponement date. Contact John Steines is you are available to help with traffic, set up, or as a fire guard.

Winter Solstice 2009

Continue reading

Budget Cuts Could Sink B.B. Clarke Swimming Platform

Quality-of-life, big city priorities clash during budget process

B. B. Clarke Beach circa 1951. An early version of the diving platform can be seen. Later version paralleled the shore and were located approximately 150 yards off shore.

As the Madison Mayor Paul Soglin prepared his budget for the coming fiscal year he asked all departments to make a five percent cut in their operational budgets. At the Parks Department they arrived at those cuts in part by eliminating and consolidating some very popular services in some parks; specifically the elimination of nine seasonal ice rinks and focusing lifeguard services at regional beaches.

In a city known for year-round recreation probably the most sacred of activities is ice skating and swimming. It is almost a cruel irony that a community whose water-borne identity is intrinsic should have to cut back on this celebrated quality-of-life benefit.  Continue reading

Olbrich Deep Well Activated for Drought Support

Water Utility says nearby Kipp contamination not a concern

Deep Well #8 on the Olbrich sledding hill. This seasonal well is the last of the 22 wells to be activated by the city in their drought response.

We’re not sure if Madison is running out of water, but as part of its drought response, the city has activated its last remaining dormant well as a precaution. Well #8, located at Welch and Lakeland Avenues also known as the Olbrich sledding hill, is in the process of being flushed so it will be ready in case demand increases again. The well has been dormant until now and some are raising concerns about water quality since its blocks from the Madison-Kipp Corporation plant where ground contamination has been an on-going concern.

In a letter to Madison 6th Ward Alder Marsha Rummel, Madison Water Utility Public Information and Conservation Official Gail Gawanda said that flushing of Well #8 began the week of July 17. The well is being placed in service as a precaution since all the other wells and booster stations are running at nearly non-stop pace to meet current demands.

Continue reading