By Boak Wiesner
Abundant wildflowers greet me eye as I head out onto the prairie. The deep purple of some Long-bracted Spiderwort punctuates the greenness. A small fly crawling amongst the stamens reminds me of the fecundity of the season as it carries pollen from one blossom to the next. If you’ve been all bit up being outside, you could try mashing its leaves and putting it on those bites – it’s an old Native remedy. There’s so few mosquitoes out here where it’s dry.
Another small insect was feasting on the blossom of some Canada Anemone just a bit further on. There are many kinds of anemones – both on land and under the sea! Anemone means “blown in the wind”. Their white is brilliant against the background.
The prairie was recently burned but unless I got down close to the very soil, I couldn’t really tell. All those nutrients that had been tied up in what is called the standing crop have been released back into the food chain. Most plant nutrients, except for ammonium, is chemicals that are oxides – that is, burnt up stuff! Several metal ions and things like that. The shafts of some clumps of willow contrast vividly to the verdancy of their surroundings. It is on the bark that I find smudges – essentially the only traces that remain.
Boak Wiesner is a Minnesota Naturalist Volunteer