So much fear in the world right now.
It’s catching. I find myself jumpy, anxious. Feeling like nothing will change. Up against a wall of doubt.
When the world seems like an impossible place, I go to the prairie. This time, instead of going alone, I go with friends. I need the reminder of how much we need each other. A reminder that we’re not alone in the world.
The late summer and early autumn greens and reds of the grasses are draining away, creating a new palette of rusts, tans, and browns.
It’s quiet here.
Until, suddenly, pheasants fly up – two, three – six! One lands in a tree.
I admire their vibrant colors — that scarlet head — even while acknowledging that pheasants aren’t native to this place. But there’s room here for them.
We have so much.
A Cooper’s hawk settles in near the black plastic mulched plant nursery, where plants are going to seed, which will be used for future restoration efforts. I love the plant nursery, with its sturdy rows of prairie plants. It’s a visual reminder of how we deliberately cultivate hope for change in the future.
The hawk stares me down. Even when we think we’ve got the way forward all figured out and organized, there’s always a wild card.
Look! Just around the corner, a herd of bison spill over the grassy two track.
One blocks our way.
We keep a respectful distance. The bison stay together, tolerating our presence.
I admire their shaggy chocolate coats; their heft and muscle. Their coats gleam and shine in the late afternoon light.
They know where the juiciest grasses are, even now.
We watch them for a long time before we move away.
The slant of the November sun backlights the prairie like a false frost.
The milk-washed sky brightens; the smell of old grass and decaying chlorophyll lifts in the autumn chill. I inhale. Exhale. The autumn prairie is changing, seemingly dying.
It’s not the end. Just a transition to the next season.
Fur and feathers…and a sea of grass. My fears are not gone, but they begin to dissolve in the late afternoon light. There is so much to be grateful for.
So much in this world that gives us reason to hope.
All photos by Cindy Crosby from Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL (The Nature Conservancy)
There is a beautiful (copyrighted!) poem by Wendell Berry, The Peace of Wild Things, that I find a good antidote to difficult times. Find it at The Poetry Foundation: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171140.