Rollins Prairie Restoration

Rollins Restoration

Rollins Prairie Restoration

I’ve mentioned Rollins Savanna before in this blog. Here is one of my favorite stretches of the trail. You can see the magnificent white oaks in the distance. There is nothing quite like an open-grown oak, with room to spread wide its arching limbs. In the middle ground is the result of breaking drainage tiles. Right away the water came back to the land, bringing with it many birds. Success! And in the foreground is a patch of prairie. Brush cutting and prescribed burns keep this system in good health, while some judicious seeding of native forbs is reweaving the tapestry that provides food and shelter for a great number of creatures.

The farmer who owned this place before it became a preserve obviously took good care of the land. I hope he or his family are pleased with how it is turning out these days. Places like this are wonderful in their own right, but they also give me hope because of the human influence they represent. There are forces in the world that help to restore balance and healing. I believe these forces will prevail over the distortions that create fear, hatred and war.

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Compass Plant Reverie

compass plant better

“Compass Plant Reverie”

melissa blue fine art

In the field, Compass Plants can get quite tall~well over my head. So when I spotted this one lolling over in the lazy hot summer heat, I grabbed my chance. My intention was merely to get a reference photo for a later pen and ink drawing. When I developed the image, however, I was struck by how graceful the plant’s pose was. For the painting I added blooms in the background, and then washed over them with color to mute them and set a meditative tone.

Every painting is imbued with layers of meaning, for me. I remember the day in the field, for starters. The way the heat felt, and the scratchiness of the leaves, the song of birds and the breeze bringing scents of wild roses. The feeling late summer brings me, of joy and sadness at the same time. Most of all I wanted to convey the lyrical nature of a plant ensconced in its proper habitat, its home.

My dad’s house is under contract. I suppose it will be a relief when it is sold, yet… I mention it because of the frogs. Several years ago he installed a little pond in the garden by the house. Winter took out the pump one year, and the fish all died. However, it was colonized by several frogs. Over this past summer I have watched them. There seem to be too many, for the little pond, and yet they seem alright. They could leave if they wanted to. There is a  lake at the foot of the hill. The little pond seems to be self sustaining in there under the overgrown plants. Duckweed floats on the surface, keeping the water oxygenated and cool. The frogs keep mosquitoes down, I guess. And in winter? I suspect there is a layer of muck at the bottom where they burrow down and hybernate. Water hasn’t been added to this pond ever. It just stays the same~a cool dark oasis filled with frogs. I draw hope from that little frog pond and sort of wish I’d thought to catch a few to bring home. Maybe I could recreate the setting but it would be too sad if I ended up killing them. At any rate,  I think of them there, living out their froggy lives year after year, hanging on in an unlikely little habitat. Life is like that. I’ve read that we are members of the last generation to have played outdoors when we were children. I suspect it is true. There is a trend for families to have more children again. I’m not judging, but just where do these people think all their children will live? Everywhere I look, new roads are being carved through erstwhile fields and woodlands, new houses are cropping up like tumors on the land. I savor the little bits of wild I can find the way I savor the last flowers of the season. But, the frogs tell me, don’t give up. Nature will persist, life will renew itself. At the last moment wonderful discoveries can still surprise you.

I hope you receive a nice surprise today 🙂