“The day greys, its light withdrawing from the winter sky till just the prairie’s edge is luminous. Light, then dark, then light again. A year is done.”—W.O. Mitchell
The Winter Solstice is past, and the daylight hours begin to lengthen. A new year is in sight.
It’s quiet on the prairie. Peaceful.
The temperature flirts with warmth, but the wind is cold. I keep my scarf wrapped tight around my neck and my hands in my pockets. A sharp bite in the air hints at snow flurries. Maybe.
Hanukkah is ended, and Christmas is only a few days away. The prairie is decked out in festive array for the holidays. The silver of wild white indigo leaves.
The gold wash of grasses and spent wildflowers across a prairie remnant.
Broken Baptisia seedpods hang like cracked bells on brittle stems.
The seeds—which make the pods into delightful rattles—are long-gone; either noshed on by weevils or dropped to the receptive prairie soil.
Ribbons of grass play with the ice.
Pearled wild quinine seedheads ornament the tallgrass.
Wild grape vines wrap tall goldenrod stems.
As I hike past the stiff tutus of the pale purple coneflower seedheads, the soundtrack of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker ballet begins to play in my mind.
It’s a beautiful season on the prairie. A world full of wonders, waiting to be discovered.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all! May your week be filled with peace and joy.
The opening quote is from Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell. His novel has sold more than one million copies in Canada since its publication in 1947. The title is taken from a Christina Rossetti poem. Thanks to the many blog readers who wrote me, both publicly and privately, to recommend this book. A Canadian classic.
All photos taken at either the Belmont Prairie Nature Preserve (BP) in Downers Grove, IL or the Schulenberg Prairie (SP) at The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL, this week unless otherwise noted (top to bottom): sunrise at Hidden Lake Forest Preserve of DuPage County, Downers Grove, IL; bench on the Schulenberg Prairie; Schulenberg Prairie in winter (SP); cream wild indigo leaves (Baptisia bracteata) savanna edge, (SP); December on the Belmont Prairie; Belmont prairie mixed grasses and forbs (BP); white wild indigo pods (Baptisia alba) (SP); big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii) and ice (SP); wild quinine (Parthenium integrifolium) (BP); wild river grape vine (Vitis riparia) and tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima) (SP); pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) BP.
Join Cindy in 2021 for an online class! See http://www.cindycrosby.com for a complete list of virtual offerings. All courses with Cindy this winter are offered online only.
January 14-February 4 (Four Thursdays) 6:30-8:30 pm CST Nature Writing II Online. Deepen your connection to nature and your writing skills in this intermediate online workshop from The Morton Arboretum. This interactive class is the next step for those who’ve completed the Nature Writing Workshop (N095), or for those with some foundational writing experience looking to further their expertise within a supportive community of fellow nature writers. Over the course of four live, online sessions, your instructor will present readings, lessons, writing assignments, and sharing opportunities. You’ll have the chance to hear a variety of voices, styles, and techniques as you continue to develop your own unique style. Work on assignments between classes and share your work with classmates for constructive critiques that will strengthen your skill as a writer. Ask your questions, take risks, and explore in this fun and supportive, small-group environment.
February 24, 7-8:30 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 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.