I am so lucky to live in “fly over country”. (To the hordes from the coasts: Please keep flying over and not stopping. We’re just fine here, really.) I live in an area of southwestern Wisconsin called “The Driftless Area,“ so called because the last glaciers avoided us and left lots of beautiful hills, valleys and rocky outcrops. But it is also full of many gorgeous prairies. If you haven’t had the luxury of enjoying a walk through a healthy prairie, then I hope you do sometime in your life. Many of our country’s prairie have been destroyed, but remnants remain, and they are jewels.
Here are some photos from a walk Jim and I took recently on a nearby prairie: The plant in the foreground is Prairie Smoke, the gold flowers in the back have my absolute favorite name for a flower: Hoary Pacoon. Who could not love a flower called Hoary Pacoon?
Here it is close up:
Also blooming were Birdsfoot Violets, a relatively rare violet that is threatened in many areas. We are so lucky to find it in abundance close by.
If you’d like to see more images of prairie plants, this is a great site. Jim and I had one more adventure on this outing. As we drove to the prairie, I saw a man stooped over the ground, a bag full of something by his side. Given the time of year, the continual rainfall we’ve had and his intent searching, I guessed he was after the elusive morel mushroom. I limped down the hill to find that yes, he had a bag full of them. I quickly emphasized that I wouldn’t return to harvest my own–an important piece of information to convey to a man holding a knife and standing over a hot spot of invaluable fungi. Morels are hard to find, highly seasonal, and cherished by many for their flavor after sauteed with garlic and butter. People pay a lot of money for them. Luckily, he was gracious and actually downright thrilled to have me take some pictures of his harvest. He insisted that I take a lot of pictures of the morels beside his knife. Apparently size matters. I won’t say a word about his placement of an erect knife beside his erect mushroom. Not a word.
Ever had morels? I’m actually not a huge fan, although I do love mushrooms in general. Maybe it’s because they are sponges for garlic and butter? What could go wrong there? And please, if you haven’t had the good fortune to enjoy what’s left of the treasure of American prairies, please find a way to enjoy them. And help us preserve them.