The Prairie in December

“I wish you peace, when the cold winds blow….”— Patti Davis and Bernie Leadon


Strange weather. Crazy headlines. The holidays. I’ve been caught up in a baking frenzy, turning out cinnamon rolls, Italian Christmas cookies, and bread. Lots of bread. All good—but if I’m going to bake—I need to hike. And nowhere is hiking better than the tallgrass prairie.

Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL.

What about you? Why not come along? Enjoy a stress-free hour. Blow those stressful headlines out of your mind. On the prairie, your biggest decision is not what size/what color/how much and “will it arrive in time?” Rather, it’s…

Which trail should I take?

Bridge over Willoway Brook, Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Or, Which aster is that?

Unknown aster (Asteracea sp.), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Take a deep breath. Listen. What’s that sound? Perhaps it’s the ice cracking under your boots.

Ice on the trail, Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

The hushed whisper of wind stirring the tallgrass.

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium); Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Or the chick-a-dee-dee-dee song rising from a tiny fluff-ball in the prairie shrubs.

Black capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), Prairie Walk and Dragonfly Landing, Lisle, IL. (2017)

So many wonders are all around, changing from moment to moment. Simple things, like a jet etch-a-sketching its way across the prairie sky, leaving contrails in its wake.

Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

The accordion shape of a December prairie dock leaf.

Prairie dock (Silphium terabinthinaceum), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Look for its soul-sister, compass plant, aging gracefully nearby.

Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Go ahead. Look. Really look. Let it soak in.

Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Admire the prairie in its December garb, from a single leaf…

Pale Indian plantain (Arnoglossum atriplicifolium), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

…to its chorus of spent wildflowers…

Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

…to the reflections in a prairie stream.

Willoway Brook, Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Then, find some milkweed floss.

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Thank the plant for its service to monarchs this year. Pluck a single seed, make a wish, and send that seed on its way.

Common milkweed floss (Asclepias syriaca), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

As it travels on the wind, let your worries and stresses go with it.

Indian hemp, sometimes called dog bane (Apocynum cannabinum), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Then, pause. Tuck away this memory for later, when you need a good one.

Great angelica (Angelica atropurpurea), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Here’s wishing for a peaceful week ahead for you. Enjoy the hike.


The opening quote is from Patti Davis’ and Bernie Leadon’s song, “I Wish You Peace,” sung by the Eagles on their album, One of These Nights. Disagreement over including the song on that album is said to be one of the last straws that led to Bernie leaving the group; he was replaced by Joe Walsh. Oddly enough, Patti Davis is the daughter of former President Ronald Reagan, which was said to be another part of the dispute. An interesting story about how she came to write a song for the Eagles can be found here. “I Wish You Peace” is often dismissed as a “trite and smarmy” song, but Jeff and I had it sung at our wedding, almost 40 years ago. Still love it.


Seven years ago, I penned “Tuesdays in the Tallgrass” for the first time and invited you to come along for a hike each week. Where did the time go? Thanks for reading, and thanks for your love of the natural world. And thank you for sharing prairie, and keeping the tallgrass alive in people’s hearts and minds. I’m grateful.


Join me in 2022 for a prairie program! Visit for current class and program listings. Need a speaker for your event, class, or program? See the website for more information.

16 responses to “The Prairie in December

  1. Your posts always make me smile, and make me feel like I’m there walking in the prairie. All of these sights are familiar to me, but seeing all these pieces of prairie always strikes me as something new, every time I see them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love walking with you (virtually) on the winter prairie, Cindy. You find the beauty most people overlook, and you inspire me. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing your prairie images and insights with the world for seven years…reading this every Tuesday is a welcome respite from the news. Enjoy Christmas with your family!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for this December post and the song. Both a lovely respite at the end of a busy day. Thanks for caring about nature and wanting to share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Stephanie, for taking time to both read and to write me. I’m grateful to connect with you and others here who love the natural world. Happy holidays and a peaceful new year! Cindy 🙂


  5. Congratulations and Thank You for 7 Years of joy!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Cathy Montgomery

    Your posts are soothing. Yes, take some time out in the prairie or just outside. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! 7 years you have been doing Tuesdays in the Tallgrass. Every week I look forward to your pictures and insight.
    I never thought about making a wish when I help some of those milkweed seeds fly away. What a wonderful idea, Happy holidays and Peace to all in 2022!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Cindy, I’ve enjoyed exploring the prairie through your eyes for some time through Zoom sessions from The Morton Arboretum. Your writings are wonderful and your photographs are stunning! I was gifted “The Tallgrass Prairie” for Christmas snd I’m treasuring every page. Thank yiu for sharing your love of the prairie with all of us.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for dropping me a note, and for being part of the Arb’s Zoom classes. You are so kind to mention the book — I’m glad you are enjoying it. Happy New Year! Hope to see you online in 2022.


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