“For if there is one constant in a prairie winter, it is inconstancy.” — John Madson
The winter storm is past, leaving magic in its wake.
So much snow, on top of the previous week’s white stuff! An old yardstick gives the final tally.
The day after the storm, the sky is “bravo blue”—so bright it makes me want to applaud. Wind-driven cumulus puffs drift over the neighbor’s trees behind my backyard prairie patch.
Sunshine lasers its beams on the new-fallen snow and attempts a melt intervention.
The temperature hovers just at freezing. Blue shadows stretch across the backyard.
Our two stone frogs are barely above snowline.
Years ago, they were half-buried in my grandma’s garden by lilies and roses. Now that she’s gone, I think of her and smile when I see them by my small pond, blanketed by snow.
Snow slides into the blown-out butterfly weed pods.
It outlines fallen trees with a thick, crumbly, white-leaded pencil.
Snow turns the prairie and the nearby woods to a confectioner’s sugar concoction; a panorama of powdered sugar.
Familiar prairie plants from the summer…
…change personality in February against a backdrop of snow.
Snow gives us a new lens with which to view the world.
And what a beautiful world it is.
Why not go for a hike and see?
John Madson (1923-1995) is the author of Where the Sky Began (1982), one of the most influential books about the tallgrass prairie. Madson, a graduate of Iowa State in wildlife biology and a World War II Veteran, became a journalist and conservation advocate. An Iowa native, he eventually moved to Godfrey, Illinois. There, he planted a prairie.
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 8 OR just added —February 15 (Two options): Tallgrass Prairie Ecology Online (Section A or B)--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. (Call the Morton Arboretum for information on the February 15 class, which is not yet posted).
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.