A prairie spring

It’s a late spring day on the prairie. Rain has visited recently after the burn, and prairie bluestem rises from brown clumps on the hillside. It’s warm for this time of the year – more like a summer day, although the plant landscape tells it differently. We walk along a mowed path that circles the perimeter of the prairie, separating it from cultivated farmland
and suburban sprawl. It’s a majestic place for those with the imagination to see it as it might have been. Rolling hills, crossed by a glacial stream, occasional stands of elder with cottonwoods standing taller along the stream. It’s not difficult to imagine what it might have looked like when all of Nebraska was wide and open, and belonged to earlier inhabitants that never anticipated rapid change. I find it comforting and invigorating and a little bit sad as I carry that history in my head, walking the grassy path. Wild bergamot lines the edges, pungent and invigorating. Compass plants form a small colony, a foot tall, but visible by their distinctive leaf pattern against the rapidly growing grasses. Lead plant, not yet with blossom, shows up in solitary stands, and wild roses already with a few bright blooms against a background of a thousand greens. I am torn between its old stories and beauty and the tasks and deadlines of my life in the present. I breathe deeply of this place, of the land and its past and current inhabitants. It is not a place that I own, but it is my home.

Photo: Kris Chavez

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