“Deep in July…counting clouds floating by…how we thrive deep in dragonfly summer.”—Michael Franks
It’s all smooth jazz on the tallgrass prairie this week, from sunrise to sunset.
The prairie hits its groove as it swings through mid-July. In the dewy mornings, by a tallgrass stream….
…the vibe is especially mellow. Water flows over stones. A few cumulous clouds drift over. In the tallgrass, the dragonflies warm up their flight muscles. Ready for a hot and humid day.
As the temperatures rise, the dragonflies rise with them. Time for breakfast. Dragonflies hover over our heads; patrol ponds.
Often they perch nearby on a downed log…
Or an upright twig.
No need to chase them today. If you startle one, it may fly off, then loop back to its original perch.
Their kissing cousins, the damselflies, stake out streams…
… hang out in ponds.
On the prairie, damselflies hover right above my boots.
As my eyes get older, it’s more difficult to see them. So tiny! But if I’m patient, and don’t rush my hike, there they are. Right in front of my eyes.
The eastern forktail damselflies, one of our most common species, are also one of the easiest to spot. Look for that bright green head and thorax, and the tiny blue tip of the abdomen. It’s bright amid the tall grasses.
Spreadwing damselflies are less common than the forktails on my hikes. I get a jolt of joy when I spot one half-hidden in a shady cool spot.
As I hike, I see more than dragonflies. Moths flit through the grasses.
Butterflies puddle in the gravel two-tracks through the prairie.
Wildflowers continue their exuberant displays…
…making it difficult to look at anything but blooms.
And yet. There’s so much to see on the July prairie.
Why not go take a hike and listen to that “smooth jazz” for yourself?
Michael Franks (1944-) is a singer and songwriter, whose lyrics from the song Dragonfly Summer kick off this blog post. His songs have been recorded by Diana Krall, Ringo Starr, Patti Austin, Manhattan Transfer, Art Garfunkel, and Lyle Lovett — just to name a few. Listen to his song Dragonfly Summer from the album of the same name here.
Join Cindy for a class or program this summer!
Virtual Summer Prairie Wildflower Walk: online Thursday, July 22, 10-11:30 a.m. Offered through The Morton Arboretum. No matter where you live, join me on Zoom to see the amazing summer tallgrass prairie wildflowers and hear their stories of uses in medicine, folklore, poetry, and even as love charms! Register here.
Tallgrass Prairie Ecology Online: Work through online materials and post your stories about prairie to the discussion boards beginning August 2; learn from other prairie stewards and volunteers about their challenges and success stories. Join a Live Zoom with Cindy on Wednesday, August 11, from noon-1 p.m. CDT. The coursework is available for 60 days. Learn more and register here.
Cindy’s book, Chasing Dragonflies, is on sale at Northwestern University Press for 40% off the cover price until July 31! Click here to order — be sure and use Code SUN40 at checkout. Limit 5. See website for full details!