“I started with surprise and delight. I was in the midst of a prairie! A world of grass and flowers stretched around me… .” — Eliza Steele
The summer speeds by. Where did June go?
Each day in June on the tallgrass prairie is another exercise in wonder.
The last days of June seem determined to bombard us with blooms.
Pearls of wild quinine wash across the prairie.
Pale pink Kankakee mallows spike through cordgrass. My, what big leaves you have!
Bright white candles of Culver’s root light up the tallgrass.
Purple sparklers of leadplant, ready for the Fourth of July.
And, tumbling across the prairie in drifts: Scurfy pea. What a great name!
June dazzles us with unexpected delights.
June puzzles us with stranger-than-strange creatures.
June wows us with wildflowers.
Even the late June skies are full of marvels from moment to moment; from storm to storm.
This month, so much vies for our attention. Each flower seems to have a tiny pollinator in residence.
Or two. Or three. Or more!
Looking back on June, it was a wonderful month to hike the tallgrass prairie.
How will July on the prairie ever measure up to June?
Impossible for July to do so, it seems. The past weeks have been so beautiful. And yet.
I can’t wait to see what’s ahead.
The opening quote is from Eliza Steele’s journal, written in 1840 as she rode to Peoria by stagecoach from Chicago. Her journal was later published as the book, A Summer Journey in the West in 1841. Interested in learning more about her journey? Check out Midewin Tallgrass Prairie’s webinar “On the Trail of Eliza Steele” July 7, 6-7 p.m. CDT, by calling 815-423-6370.
All photos this week are from the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL.
Join Cindy for a class or program this summer!
Beginning Dragonfly and Damselfly ID: online Monday, July 12 and Wednesday, July 14 (two-part class) 10-11:30 am. Offered through The Morton Arboretum. The first session is an introduction to the natural history of the dragonfly, with beautiful images and recommended tools and techniques for identification of species commonly found in northern and central Illinois. Then, put your skills to work outside on your own during the following day in any local preserve, park, or your own backyard. The second session will help you with your field questions and offer more advanced identification skills. To conclude, enjoy an overview of the cultural history of the dragonfly—its place in art, literature, music, and even cuisine! You’ll never see dragonflies in the same way again. To register, click here.
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.