Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Springtime On TheTall-Grass Prairie

Indian Paintbrush

This past winter seems to have been one of the longest, and, in many respects, the worst that I can remember. Just last week we had a couple of nights when the temperatures dipped down into the 30's for overnight lows (which is not good for those of us who have already planted our gardens), but, with a little extra care we've weathered the storms and, despite winter's best efforts to hang on, spring, in all her glory, has broke forth, and arrived, on the tall-grass prairie of Southwest Missouri.

We first moved to the tall-grass prairie in May of 1996. It was quite different from where we had come from (the Kansas City suburb of Blue Springs), but we loved it. We still love it when we're not so tied up with day-to-day living that we forget to take notice of God's beautiful creation all around us.

When we first came to this area we noticed everything. Because everything was so different. The plants, the birds...even some of the animals. Who knew that a two...two and half hour...drive straight south could make such a difference? But it did. As homeschoolers, moving to the tall-grass prairie opened up a whole new world for us to explore, and explore we did...and have...and still do, when given the chance.

In studying over the years, I have come to realize what a unique, and relatively small, area of North America that the tall-grass prairie covers. I have also come to realize that many people will never get the opportunity to visit such a place, let alone, live in one, and I don't ever want to take that for granted. The beauty here is astounding!

Where we live, in Liberal (Barton County), Missouri, we are situated right on the eastern border of the tall-grass prairies that stretch west into Kansas. There the tall-grass prairies gives way to the mixed-grass prairies and, eventually, even further west, the mixed-grass prairie gives way to the short-grass prairies found throughout the Great Plains. Within minutes of our home, traveling east or south, either one, you will find yourself in the Ozark foothills, and, to our north lies the vastness of the Osage Plain.

Much of the tall-grass prairie has been turned into farmland. In our area there are a lot of farmers that specialize in black Angus cattle, and many farm crops are grown (corn, wheat, milo, soybeans, and, just recently, canola), but, thankfully, there are still areas of preserved, virgin, tall-grass prairie left in our state. Prairie State Park, consisting of about 4,000 acres, is Missouri's largest remaining tall-grass prairie landscape, and it is located less than 5 miles from our home.
Black Angus Cattle
A Canola Field
Right now the roadsides, pastures, and prairies are dotted with color as spring wildflowers make their showy appearance at every turn. Indian paintbrush clothed in its fiery reddish-orange graces natural prairie areas, while rose verbenablack-eyed Susans and ox-eyed daisies dance merrily along prairie roadsides.

I saw my first turtle of the season crossing the road a couple of days ago...either a three-toed box turtle or an ornate box turtle (I didn't see it close enough to make a positive identification) and, just yesterday, my first butterfly of the season, a spicebush swallowtail. I also noticed that the scissor-tailed flycatchers are back for the summer. One was sitting atop the power-lines overlooking a gravel road that we were traveling over the weekend.

These are just a few things found on the tall-grass prairie in springtime. I hope to share more with you about life on the tall-grass prairie in the days ahead.

Until next time...

All My Love,

#PSP, #tallgrass, #prairie

One Thousand Gifts - #44  giggles and laughter, #45 unconditional love, and #46  honesty

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