Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Why do I feel this way - on early July mornings in the ancient savanna?
I have no prayer of sharing it fully with you.
But I'm eager to reveal what I can.
Truly, I'm in love with these daybreaks.
A time to take photographs - and notice successes, and needs.
We work hard to help it recover full diversity, health, and the expression of itself.
If you're interested in the names of the parts: those curling leaves are big blue stem, here sprawling under orange butterfly milkweed. The grayish foliage on the left (topped by flowerbuds for next week) is leadplant. (I'm in the moment as I look, but I'm also in the future as those buds proclaim soon purple and orange and swarming neat pollinators.) The fine grass is dropseed - royalty of prairie quality. Huge wide leaves are prairie dock - busy putting up seven-foot flower stalks. The pale green, barely starting to unfurl down in front, will later be heath aster, one of the last flowers of autumn.)
Prairie lily is so rare and conservative that we despaired of ever restoring it.
Then for a few years, with a lot of work, we saw one or two per year.
This year there were dozens, widely spread, on the way back.
Most bloomed earlier and are now fattening seeds.
But perhaps the star of this photo is purple prairie clover - fine leaves topped by a cluster of buds, on the right. This rare clover will more obviously be the star in two weeks, as you'll see below.
New Jersey tea. Blooming on both sides of one of our trails.
If you haven't been to Somme, this is how our trails look. You might think this path semi-invisible, but it's easy to follow - and most places aren't this overgrown. We very much need the seeds of the New Jersey tea, so we let them sprawl wherever they want, until the seeds are ripe.
Thus, when we walk these footpaths, we're in the ecosystem. We don't just see it. The ecosystem touches us as we touch it. Butterflies and beetles land on our shoulders. (We wear repellent to keep ticks and chiggers off our legs and ankles. How did the Native Americans do it?)
The bugs above are three hairstreak butterflies. They too are drawn to New Jersey tea. (The third hairstreak is facing us, and thus a thin gray line, if you look close.)
Canada milk vetch with butterfly milkweed and leadplant.
We looked far and wide to find their first seeds. Now they're common here.
Could I write:
To me the meanest parasite that grows
May sometimes give thoughts too deep for tears?
The yellow-orange patch above is a parasitic morning glory called dodder. Where certain plants are "over-abundant" (in the opinion of the dodder), it sucks up some of their energy and makes way for more diversity. In addition to fire and animals (grazers, pollinators, predators, etc. etc.) - other "creative destruction" processes are part of the mystery and magic.
Our emotions seem like those of a parent or a doctor. The child needs to grow itself. Just so, the patient needs to heal. Our job is to care for them, not to dominate or control.
Somme Prairie Grove now has 487 native plant species and many thousands of animal species. We do our best. Most of them increasingly take care of themselves. The patient recovers. The child matures. Bless them.
Thanks to hundreds of volunteers for the great restoration.
Thanks to Kathy Garness for proofing and edits.