A Moment of Prairie Peace

“When despair for the world grows in me… .” — Wendell Berry


It’s tough to find words this morning. So—let’s go for a walk.

River jewelwing (Calopteryx aequabilis), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

There is solace in watching damselflies. They flaunt and flirt and flutter in the cool July streams…

Ebony jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) and river jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx aequabilis), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Their cares are so different than my own. What do they worry about, I wonder?

Springwater dancer damselfly (Argia plana), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Perhaps they keep an eye out for darting tree swallows, or a floating frog.

American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Maybe they watch for a ravenous fish, lurking just beneath the stream’s surface. Or even a hungry dragonfly.

Virginia bunch-flower (Melanthium virginicum) and widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

As I walk and look around the prairie, I feel myself become calmer. The bumblebees and honeybees and native bees go about their life’s work of visiting flowers. Not a bad way to live.

Assorted bees on purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

The poet Mary Oliver writes in her poem, “Invitation”: “It is a serious thing/ just to be alive/ on this fresh morning/ in this broken world.”

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

I wade into the stream and watch the damselflies. Some scout for insects. Others perch silently along the shoreline.

River bluet (Enallagma anna), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Others are busy dancing a tango with a partner…

Springwater dancer damselflies (Argia plana), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

…laying groundwork for the future.

Ebony jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) ovipositing, Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Today, all I can do is walk in this world. All I can do is look.

Male ebony jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata), Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

Pay attention.

Summer on the Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

I don’t want to stop feeling. Or stop caring.

Eastern amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) on unknown water lily , Lisle, IL.

I never want to be numb to the grief in this world, even when it feels overwhelming.

Fame Flower Knob, Nachusa Grasslands, Franklin Grove, IL.

But it feels like too much sometimes.

And even though the world seems broken beyond repair right now, when I look around me….

Michigan lily (Lilium michiganense), Schulenberg Prairie Savanna, Lisle, IL.

… I’m reminded of how beautiful it can be.

Calico pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) , Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

What will it take for things to change?

Common buckeye butterfly (Junonia coenia), Schulenberg Prairie, Lisle, IL.

Never give up. We need to leave this world a better place than we found it. Even when putting the pieces back together feels impossible.

I need that reminder today.


Wendell Berry (1934-) is a writer, environmental activist, novelist, essayist, and farmer. The beginning of his poem, “The Peace of Wild Things,” opens this blog. You can read the complete poem here. It’s a good one.


Upcoming Classes and Programs

Learn more about dragonflies and damselflies in Beginning Dragonfly and Damselfly ID, a two-part class online and in-person. Join Cindy on Thursday, July 14, for a two-hour Zoom then Friday, July 15 for three hours in the field at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL. Register here.

12 responses to “A Moment of Prairie Peace

  1. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I need that reminder today, too . . .

    Jim EschenbrennerEmail: jimesch@gmail.com jimesch@gmail.comCell: 641.799.0010

    Liked by 1 person

  3. brendaspitzer

    Thank you for this reminder. I needed it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy Streett

    Thank you for this peace on this difficult morning, we all need to reflect and heal; the best place is in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Cindy, for this moment of Peace in the midst of chaos.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Cindy a mellow, uplifting healing nature,
    Tuesday’s in Tallgrass
    gift from you today 💖
    Thank you for the beauty Hope and
    Calm🇺🇸☺️ 🙏 Lynn

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh Cindy, my heart aches so much these days. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep writing without spreading negativity and despair. I admire your ability to go out to your prairies and find some temporary comfort. I need respite from the human world too. Thank you for today’s post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you Cindy

    Liked by 1 person

  9. pickblackberries

    Thant you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for bringing us Wendell Berry in the quiet, sobering aftermath of what should have been family and friends celebrating the birth of our democracy after doing without for two COVID years…
    I always wonder how different these individuals would have been if they spent as much time in the camaraderie of others in nature, planting, getting dirty, sweating, and seeing the fruits of their labors as they do in their dystopian fantasy worlds on their screens.
    Because nature and connection heals.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sara Robertson

    Cindy, This is just lovely — and so appropriate for the circumstances. Thank you. Sara

    Sent from AT&T Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Liked by 1 person

  12. We all need moments of reflection amid the never ending tragedies that have gripped the nation.Thank you for this moment of peace. Wishing everyone would take the time to sit quietly outdoors and appreciate the beauty of life. Maybe we could get past the negativity if we did so.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s