“April golden, April cloudy, Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy...”–Ogden Nash.
Spring on the prairie is a showcase of contrasts at the end of April.
Sand phlox. So small! Like a paper snowflake carefully cut out with scissors.
Tiny blooms. Balanced by rough-and-tumble bison, the heavyweight champs of the prairie.
Delicate spreadwing damselflies emerge from ponds to tremble in the sun.
Furry beavers coast by, on their way to ongoing construction projects.
There’s evidence of egrets. Their pale feathers a contrast to…
…the bright buttery sunshine of marsh marigolds, with a lipstick red beetle.
The beetle seems minuscule until a spider wanders into the scene. The line it throws is deceptively fragile looking. Yet, it’s strong enough to capture supper.
There is life high above, in the flight of a blue heron scared up from the fen.
While below, tossed carelessly in the grasses, are souvenirs of death.
Life cut short.
Beauty and terror co-exist, side-by-side.
But the stars still come out –shooting stars! Make a wish.
Life, death, rebirth. It’s all here…
…at the end of April on the prairie.
The opening quote is from the poet (Frederic) Ogden Nash (1902-71) and his poem, “Always Marry an April Girl.” Nash is known for his humorous rhyming verse, and his nonsensical words. An example: “If called by a panther/don’t anther.”
All photos copyright Cindy Crosby at Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL (top to bottom): Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans), sand phlox (Phlox bifida bifida); bison (Bison bison); possibly sweetflag spreadwing (Lestes forcipatus) (ID uncertain); beaver (Castor canadensis); egret feather (Ardea alba); marsh marigolds (Caltha palustris) with an unknown beetle; unknown spider; blue heron (Ardea herodias); bones in the grasses; possibly red-winged blackbird egg (Agelaius phoeniceus) in nest; shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) with nest; shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia); violet sorrel (Oxalis violacea) with an unknown pollinator. Thanks to Bernie Buchholz for showing me the sand phlox, and John Heneghan, for help with the nest ID.