Monday, October 06, 2014

Little hike on the prairie

Martha Skillman's annual Birthday Hike and Pie Tasting occurs in autumn, as southern Iowa's prairie remnants are nodding off before their winter nap, but that doesn't mean they're any less interesting. This was the 12th annual hike and the 80-something-th birthday, beginning and ending with pie at the Pin Oak Marsh Lodge, sandwiching a ramble down the Cinder Path east of Derby.

That's Martha on the right here, surrounded by prairie enthusiasts young and older. No, you can't drive on the Cinder Path, but Skylar was in the lead and he has keys to the gates, so those who felt the need to ride or drive could.

It was a great mix of young, middle and older with an enthusiastic dog thrown in for good measure. The prizes of the day were Downy Gentians. If you look closely here, you'll see one gleaming in the grass between Andy's feet.

I took this shot of a Gentian in roughly the same spot a few days ago. Bottle Gentians are more frequently seen; prairie (or downy) gentians, rarer.

We did not find Ladies' Tresses, a tiny white orchid that sometimes blooms here --- and I've been looking. No luck. Had there been time to attend another prairie hike Saturday morning --- on the trails at Bob White State Park west of Allerton --- one was spotted there.

Sunday afternoon was a good time to gather seed (in this case Blazing Star) --- if you were feeling optimistic that it would sprout. Prairies, once gone, are notoriously hard to get going again.

And for conversation. The object of interest here, although not visible, was a critter commonly called "granddaddy longlegs" on the elbow at left.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and it occurred to me this morning that I'd not read a single headline Sunday or heard a news broadcast. We all need more days like that. Maybe that's what day of rest should be all about.

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