“This dewdrop world is a dewdrop world. And yet. And yet.” –Kobayashi Issa
September draws to a close. The prairie dreams; wakens later each morning.
You gaze at the grass, all waves, and wind, and water. A grassy sea.
Foam is kicked up by the churning of the grasses.
The clouds become the prows of ships, tossing on the tumultuous air…
And you realize fences, no matter how strong, can never contain the tallgrass, washing up against the wires.
Fungi cling like barnacles to dropped limbs on the edges of the grasses…
You reflect on how, after almost being obliterated, the tallgrass prairie has hung on to life; survival by a thread.
It was a close call. Even today, prairie clings to old, unsprayed railroad right-of-ways in the center of industrial areas and landscaped lawns.
Little patches of prairie, scrabbling for life, show up in unlikely places.
Although the prairie’s former grandeur is only dimly remembered…
…and in many places, the tallgrass prairie seems utterly obliterated from memory, gone with the wind…
…the prairie has put down roots again. You can see it coming into focus in vibrant, growing restorations, with dazzling autumn wildflowers…
…and diverse tiny creatures.
There is hope, glimpsed just over the horizon…
The dawn of a future filled with promise for a grassy sea.
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828), whose haiku opens this essay, was a Japanese poet regarded as one of the top four haiku masters of all time. He wrote this particular haiku after suffering tremendous personal loss.
All photos copyright Cindy Crosby (top to bottom): mist rising over prairie planting, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; autumn at Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Conrad Savanna, The Nature Conservancy and Indiana DNR, Newton County, IN; Nachusa Grasslands in September, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis) and sweet everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium), Kankakee Sands, The Nature Conservancy, Newton County, IN; unknown fungi, Brown County State Park, Nashville, IN; marbled orb weaver in the grasses (Araneus marmoreus), Brown County State Park, Nashville, IN; big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and other prairie plants along a railroad right-of-way, Kirkland, IN; prairie plants along an overpass, Bloomington, IN; thistles and grasses, Kankakee Sands, The Nature Conservancy, Newton County, IN; wind farm, Benton County, IN; great blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), Kankakee Sands, The Nature Conservancy, Newton County, IN; Eastern-tailed blue (Cupido comyntas), Brown County State Park, Nashville, Indiana; Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL.