I love the prairie. I was born in South Dakota, and raised in North Texas. When I stand in the middle of a prairie, it just feels right.
A lot of people see prairie as just a big grassy nothing. “Nothing to see here, let’s move along, go find a big mountain to look at.” In today’s rush-rush world, I get that. But to love the prairie, you gotta slow down. Prairies usually reveal their charms slowly, and only to those willing to peer closely, or wait. A staggering diversity of life is found in the little details of the prairie, be they grasses or flowers or bugs or birds or butterflies. It is a landscape that looks so very different as the light shifts, as the seasons change, at different angles and heights. Ever changing, slowly, almost imperceptibly.
And then it explodes – with light, color, storms, fire, flowers, life. It is a never-ending cycle of wonders, big and small. But you have to wait. You have to be there. You have to slow down and look.
The Blackland Prairie was a wild and legendary tallgrass prairie, 12 millions acres, an immense and mythic canvas of grass and flowers, buffalos, indians, cowboys. It is almost gone now. Worked, plowed, paved and subdivided. Now less than 5000 acres remain.
But tiny fractions do persist, thankfully. Dedicated conservation groups, ranchers, landowners and other dedicated folks have kept it alive and growing. Groups like the Texas Nature Conservancy, Connemara, Texas Native Prairie Association and Texas Parks and Wildlfe all do what they can.
As a North Texan, prairie is my identity, my history, the little bit of earth and sky to which I anchor. But few of my fellow North Texans are even aware of what was here, much less have any connection to it. So I am starting a longterm project to document and celebrate our prairies, and I’d love for you to follow me!