“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” –T. S. Eliot
October recedes in the rear-view mirror.
On the edge of the prairie, ruby-leaved maples still spill their colors into the cold, blue air.
An Asian beetle scrambles along a wooden beam, then slows.
Grasshoppers flip and turn on the bridge through the tallgrass, then pause, as if asking: “What’s next?”
It’s the end of one cycle. And the beginning of another.
The season of seeds.
The prairie explodes with a seed extravaganza.
Asters shake their pom poms.
Milkweeds breathe out tendrils of silk.
Cattails wave their batons to the rhythm the wind commands.
Seeds, seeds, seeds.
The prairie tosses its curls full of Canada wild rye, punctuated with thistle.
Enchanter’s nightshade casts its spell over the prairie savanna.
One by one, the seeds ripen, then loosen.
And so, they begin their journeys. Some by wind…
Some by water…
Some lifted by the hands of volunteers, who spend hours in the tallgrass picking prairie seeds into buckets;
spread them out in trays to dry.
The seeds wait, ready to be sown on winter’s first snow. The cold, damp conditions will ready them for germination in the spring.
The end of one chapter; the beginning of another.
The promise of something new to come.
All photos by Cindy Crosby: (top to bottom) Leaves, Springbrook Nature Center, Itasca, IL; bridge, SNC; maple (Acer spp.), SNC; Asian beetle, SNC; grasshopper, SNC; wild plum (Prunus americana), Songbird Slough Forest Preserve of DuPage County, Itasca, IL; asters (unknown species) , SS; milkweed pod (Asclepias syriaca), SS; cattails (Typha latifolia), SS; Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL; enchanter’s nightshade (Circaea lutetiana canadensis), NG; beebalm with milkweed seed (Monarda fistulosa and Asclepias syriaca), author’s backyard in Glen Ellyn, IL; Springbrook Creek by the prairie at SNC; seeds collected on the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; native prairie seeds drying in the headhouse, SP; little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), SP; goldenrod (Solidago spp), SS.
The opening quote is from T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets.”