The Fen, Late Summer

A unique ecosystem, a gem. Fen-only plants and flowers along with what’s found in Illinois elsewhere. I don’t know the name of these plants and flowers, but I do know:

The colors have changed since we last visited. More reds, blues, purples.

We need rain. Toads looked too dry and searching for water.

All around us we heard skittering animals. Didn’t see them. Just heard hints of animal life.

The red winged blackbirds are no longer dive bombing from behind as we walked. Their wee birds must have flown the nests.

Next visit: early autumn.

Thanks for reading.

Nature pictures

So needed a nature walk today!    Couldn’t wait to post these pictures, so I created this blog from my phone.  I am learning.  Enjoy, and thanks for reading and viewing.

Laura Lee

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Attention Cloud Lovers! A fun site…

 

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The Cloud Appreciation Society on Facebook is full of gorgeous pictures of… CLOUDS.  Yes, dramatic colorful cloud pictures.  The actual society’s web page is here: Cloud Appreciation Society .

A few years ago, I told my sophomore English class that I was a member of the International Cloud Appreciation Society, and most students were mildly amused, but some students were on the floor laughing.

But one sweet girl bought me a cloud coffee mug when she found out I was retiring.  Precious to me!

This photo is from : https://www.facebook.com/cloudappreciationsociety/photos/a.746003838746702.1073741825.213783115302113/1129659353714480/?type=3&theater

and is from the Netherlands.

 

 

 

I (accidentally) grew up on a prairie (sort of)

Sand prairie at The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.                 I accidentally grew up with a few acres of rare Midwestern prairie behind our home.  When we moved from Chicago, my parents bought a house not yet built, in a neighborhood with streets not yet paved.  At first, we had sticks in mud with street names painted on them.  The area was filled with former soldiers using their benefits to buy their first home in that unknown place called the suburbs. The lure was land, open spaces, less crime, better schools, and a chance at the so-called American Dream.

Before we moved, neighbors had nearly burned us out of our apartment with cooking while drunk, had left their used needles in the common ways, and gangs were eyeing my now teen aged elder brother.

My parents were terrified of what would happen to my teen brother at first, then the rest of us.

So they headed west, to a suburb mostly mud and dreams at that time.

And a surprise behind the house? The few acres of prairie remained, with a small swamp at one end.  We didn’t know it at the time, but two towns were suing for the right to build on this land.  Each town felt these precious acres were part of their town, and the lawsuit went on for a dozen years.

But during those years, we had this piece of prairie heaven to ourselves; it was a place for children to safely play and explore.  We grew to believe that butterflies lived everywhere and were plentiful, that wildflowers would forever grow, that the summer days would never end as we played, made up stories (okay, that was me), and explored.

But to me, I was a bit afraid of the swamp up close, for the stories were becoming our childhood myths: witches lived there. Children–and even airplanes!–disappeared in the swamp.

So I spent a lot of time watching the prairie sunsets from my own backyard, often standing on a rickety picnic table to catch the very last rays of sun.  I was drawn to this beauty, drawn to the sky, the sun, the miracle of the ending of daylight.

I had no camera back then to capture a sunset, as I was just a child myself and cameras were something professionals had at weddings or older family members had for special days.

As to the swamp? I’ll write more about my love/ hate relationship with that magical place another time.

When I drive through the flat lands of the Midwest now, I often think of how boring all this flatness is–no variety.  But then I remember the magic of sunsets on a prairie.

These are not my photographs, (these are photos in the public domain) but they do capture something of what I remember: the beauty of wide open land that led to the miracle of a sunset.  Every day.

 

 

 

And *this* photo was a writing prompt!

IMG_6070                     I kept this photo for nearly 18 years.  We produced some interesting (erm!) writing from this photo prompt.  I know a few friends and I are clownaphobic, and this really spoke to us. Wish I could find the writing.  I am sure it was BIZARRE.

Try, just try not to think of this photo as the day goes on…the red hands, the red throat… Sinister and humorous at the same time.