Rain, rain go away. Come again some other day.
Relentless rain. It seems like it will never stop. Until dusk, when the clouds clear for a bit. Despite the hour, I pull on my boots and go for a hike on the prairie.
I wade through puddles on the path. Breath in. The prairie smells like it’s been rinsed in mint. Willoway Brook runs full and fast; the sound of water threads the evening air.
Grasses string necklaces of water droplets.
The rain pools in beads on the waxy surface of pale prairie plantain leaves.
Clouds of mosquitoes whine, whine, whine around my face. I pull on my headnet.
A deer, drinking from the overflowing stream, startles at my approach. She crashes off through the oak savanna.
A red-winged blackbird bounces on a white wild indigo stem, heavy with seedpods. He shrieks a warning: Keep your distance! No doubt a nest is hidden along the stream.
Water swirls, trapped in the base of cup plant leaves. Goldfinches sip the rainwater before they retire for the night.
Culver’s root lifts its candles out of the tallgrass; wet and dripping.
The moon rises, just a sliver shy of full in the East, as the saturated tallgrass turns its flower faces to the last light.
The prairie sky hangs its clouds out to dry for the night.
And I remember why I made time to come here…
…after the rain.
All photos by Cindy Crosby of the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL (top to bottom): Prairie trail; water droplets on grasses; water beading on pale Indian plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium); white-tailed deer; red-winged blackbird; cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum); Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum); prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata); prairie at dusk.