“…How swiftly time passes in the out-of-doors where there is never a moment without something new.”– Sigurd Olson
It starts with graupel. Icy pellets of rimed snow. Soft hail. The graupel rattles the windows. Pelts the patio. Bounces like tiny ping-pong balls across my backyard and into the prairie patch. The winter storm is here.
Four mourning doves swoop onto the porch. They peck-peck-peck the scattered millet seed around the bird feeders, then shelter under the eaves. Darkness falls. The wind rattles the windows. And at last, it begins to snow.
A light snow cover has blanketed the prairies this week. Critters leave clues to their identities.
The prairie grasses, overshadowed by wildflowers most of the year, find snow is the perfect backdrop to showcase their charms.
Snow is a stage for tallgrass shadows and silhouettes to play upon.
Turkey tail fungi sift snow, letting it powder each arc of nuanced color.
In shrubs and thickets, black-capped chickadees shelter from the storm. They know how to endure.
From a distance, Indian hemp seems stripped of all but pod and stem.
Come closer. A few seeds still cling to the scoured pods, ready to set sail in the high winds.
Everywhere is something to spark wonder. “Even an adult can grow in perception if he refuses to close the doors to learning,” wrote Sigurd Olson in Reflections from the North Country. There are stories to be listened to…
…messages to be read in the midst of the snow, if only we can decipher them. If we keep the doors to learning open.
When the doors to learning stand open, what is there to discover?
Perhaps, diversity is beautiful.
Or, Think of future generations, not just of the needs or desires of the moment.
Remember the past, but don’t get stuck there.
Embrace change, even when it’s difficult. It usually is.
Appreciate what you have today…
…it may not be here tomorrow.
The choices we make aren’t always clear or easy.
There are a lot of gray areas.
But it’s never too late to reflect. To listen. To learn.
And then, to move forward.
There is so much to see and think about on the prairie.
So much to pay attention to.
So much to consider, on a prairie hike in the snow.
Sigurd Olson (1899-1982), whose quote opens this post, was born in Chicago and grew up in northern Wisconsin. He is considered one of the most important environmental advocates of the 20th Century. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area—over one million acres in size—owes its preservation to the work of Olson and many others. Olson worked as a wilderness guide in the Quetico-Superior area of Minnesota and Canada, and his nine books explore the meaning of wilderness and the outdoors. He is a recipient of the John Burroughs Medal, the highest honor in nature writing, for Wilderness Days. If you haven’t read Olson, I’d suggest beginning with The Singing Wilderness. A very good read.
Join Cindy in 2021 for an online class! See http://www.cindycrosby.com for a complete list of virtual offerings. All classes and programs with Cindy this winter and spring are offered online only. Join me from your computer anywhere in the world.
Begins Monday, February 6 OR just added —February 15 (Two options): Tallgrass Prairie Ecology Online--Digitally explore the intricacies of the tallgrass prairie landscape and learn how to restore these signature American ecosystems as you work through online curriculum. Look at the history of this unique type of grassland from the descent of glaciers over the Midwest millions of years ago, to the introduction of John Deere’s famous plow, to where we are today. We will examine different types of prairie, explore the plant and animal communities of the prairie and discuss strategies specific to restoring prairies in this engaging online course. Come away with a better understanding of the tallgrass prairies, and key insights into how to restore their beauty. All curriculum is online, with an hour-long in-person group Zoom during the course. You have 60 days to complete the curriculum! Join me–Registration information here.
February 24, 7-8:30 p.m. CST: The Prairie in Art and Literature Online. The tallgrass prairie is usually thought of for its diverse community of plants, animals, and insects. Yet, it is also an inspiration for a creative community! In this interactive online talk, natural history author and prairie steward Cindy Crosby will explore historical and contemporary writers and artists, musicians, and other creatives working in the prairie genre: from Neil Young to Willa Cather to graphic comic artists , quilters, and jewelers expressing the prairie through their work. See the prairie in a new light! Come away inspired to appreciate and express your love of the tallgrass as you enjoy learning about this prairie “community.” Offered by The Morton Arboretum: Register here.