A Tallgrass Prairie Snowfall

“…I have meandered, like the drifts of snow, across the wide prairies.” —Paul Gruchow

*****

It came.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

It transformed the prairie.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Then, it melted.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

But in the brief time it was here, it was magical.

Little bluestem (Schizochryium scoparium), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

On Sunday, the first significant snowfall in…well, a while here…cast its spell on the gray, gloomy January landscape. It turned wearisome weather into wonder.

Illinois bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

The mallards sailed through slush, tracing their way through the prairie pond.

Mallard ducks (Anas platyrhynchos), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

It’s been unusually warm for a snowfall. You can feel the unresolved tension between freeze and thaw.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

After days of hiking muddy trails under platinum skies, the white stuff falling lifts my spirits. Snowflakes touch each wildflower’s winter remains with brightness.

Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Grasses tremble under their frosty loads.

Canada wild rye (Elymus canadensis), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Last summer’s leaves, freed from their job of churning chlorophyll, become works of art.

Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Seed pods have jettisoned most of their loads.

Dogbane (or Indian Hemp) (Apocynum cannabinum), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Almost before we can finish our hike today, the snowfall is over.

Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum), Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

But the enchantment will stay with me.

Bird’s nest, Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

Goodbye, snow.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

I wish you would have stayed longer. But I’m grateful for your presence on the prairie today.

*****

The opening quote is from Paul Gruchow’s Journal of a Prairie Year (Milkweed Editions). There isn’t much written about the prairie in winter, and Gruchow (1947-2004) does a fine job describing his January hikes. He was one of the prairie’s best writers.

*****

Join Cindy for a class or program in February!

Nature Writing Workshopβ€” Four Thursday evenings (February 2, 9, 16, and 23) from 6-8:30 p.m. Join a community of nature lovers as you develop and nurture your writing skills in person. Class size is limited. Hosted by The Morton Arboretum. Masks are optional. For more information and to register visit here.

Winter Prairie Wonders — Tuesday, February 7, 10-11:30 a.m. Discover the joys of the prairie in winter as you hear readings about the season. Enjoy stories of the animals who call the prairie home. Hosted by the Northbrook Garden Club in Northbrook, IL. Free to non-members, but you must register by contacting NBKgardenclub@gmail.com for more information.

Dragonflies and Damselflies: The Garden’s Frequent Fliers –— Wednesday, February 8, noon-1:30 p.m. Hosted by Countryside Garden Club in Crystal Lake, IL. (Closed event for members)

The Tallgrass Prairie: Grocery Store, Apothecary, and Love Charm Shop— Thursday, February 9, 12:30-2 p.m. Hosted by Wheaton Garden Club in Wheaton, IL (closed event for members).

Illinois’ Wild and Wonderful Early Bloomers— February 20, 7:15 p.m-8:45 p.m. Hosted by the Suburban Garden Club, Indian Head Park, IL. Free and open to non-members. For more information, contact Cindy through her website contact space at http://www.cindycrosby.com.

*****

Bell Bowl Prairie in Rockford, IL, needs your help! Find out more on saving this threatened remnant prairie at SaveBellBowlPrairie.

12 responses to “A Tallgrass Prairie Snowfall

  1. Nice walk, Cindy! You mention that Paul Gruchow is one of few who have written of the prairie in winter; I predict that future prairie writers will also use your lovely thoughts as quotes to accompany their writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How kind you are, Kim! I’m excited to read about your adventures this week — I saw you just dropped a new post at “Nature is My Therapy” — can’t wait. Welcome back, and thank you for that lovely note. Cindy πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a lovely post. I miss seeing snow on the prairie…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cindy, every time you write of your excursions to the Russell R. Kirt Prairie is such a wonderful way to honor his legacy as a devoted and brilliant biology professor at College of DuPage! Thank you for revealing this gentle, soft snowfall on the diversity of prairie plants living there.
    https://dupage.wildones.org/russell-r-kirt-prairie/

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks again for your interpretation. I just read Wind in the Willow. What a delightful story. Your words reminded me of the lale.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Clarence Coffey

    I have a new email address—-tallgrasscoffey@specrtum.net Thanks, Clarence Coffey

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Clarence — -thank you for letting me know about your new email address (I love it!). However, I can’t add your name to the email list — it has to come from the reader. If you go to the blog (just google “Tuesdays in the Tallgrass” and it will come up) you’ll see a “follow” button on the right hand side of the page under my picture and bio. Just click on that “Follow” and enter your new email address. Let me know if that doesn’t work! You can email me if you have trouble at phrelanzer@aol.com. Thank you for reading the Tuesdays in the Tallgrass blog, and also, for supporting prairie!

      Like

  6. The slush trails left by the mallards β€” love it!
    Great winter post. Thank you Cindy.

    Liked by 1 person

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