Tons of photos to ensue. Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center is less than 30 minutes southwest of Lincoln, NE, and is also where my wife and I had our wedding reception two years ago. We visited it Tuesday, an overcast and warm / damp foggy morning.
The prairie sits on 800 acres of never-tilled land, and also hides the remnants of the Nebraska City to Ft. Kearney Oregon Trail cutoff (see pics below, but we didn't see any wagon ruts due to foliage, I'm guessing).
Lots of native plants, lots of Piet Oudolf looking vistas, and--unfortunately--lots of invasive weeds (which I'd assume will get less and less as the prairie ecosystem fully restores itself). Stop talking. Show me pictures. Ok. Click to expand if you'd like.
The welcome and education center, replete with shop.
One of many mown paths we found ouselves simply wandering on. We ignored the map.
Everything is beginning to die back. The grey is especially pronounced on this morning, but I still find the view breathtaking. Do you?
A comfy place to rest. There was so much thistle everywhere--likely invasive varieties--and so many insects on them, I put in a seed order when I got home for Cirsium discolor, the native pasture thistle.
Glad to see my ironweed isn't the only stand that looks like junk.
It's all about the linkages of shadows. I had an art teacher in high school who taught us to first draw the shadows of what we were trying to capture, then that object would more truthfully be rendered. A lot of metaphor in that idea--that shadows define us as much if not more than our actual selves. Shadows: memories, hopes, dreams, worries, fears, defeats, impressions, loves, beliefs. All that is left of us in the end is a shadow, much like the image of a photograph.
What cool texture of milkweed pods.
My wife insisted this looked like a nest of baby rodents.
I found this indentation added much character to such a relatively small area where we walked. We encountered a pond, a marsh, this gorge, tree lines... everything.
I'm really partial to this image. It's like sedimentary gradations. In the middle is, I believe, a stand of buckthorn--on the left still green, on the right already a warm bronze. Lovely texture.
I saw the sign, and it opened up my eyes.... (name that annoying band)
Guess this is where the wagon trail is.
He stood still for me long enough to get a nice shot of both him and the thistle bloom.
Spotty patches of Salvia azurea where peeking through various grasses, and really stood out.
Quintessential plains view.
On a dark day these unknown grass / weed heads stood out like a halo. In fact, if you click on the image, it sure seems to me that each one does indeed have a halo.
As well as these. Gorgeous in the breeze.
What makes prairies so beautiful to me are how overlooked they can be--especially this time of year. It's easy to stop and gawk in July at the various blooms, but to stop and gawk at the subtle foliar forms, changes of color, the way each species naturally organizes itself and literally leans upon one another above and below the ground--well, there's something to be learned on a few metaphorical levels. To walk among the end of a season with hope and faith, to imagine what was and will be, is to live fully in the now; I think prairie vistas are especially instructive in this regard as they wear their changes on their sleeve, so to speak.