When Mr. Science (Gary Erickson of Nature Notes) ( http://fillmorenature.blogspot.com/) recommends a book to me I take it seriously. He has enhanced my interest in several subjects including birding and native wildflowers. The book was where the sky began – land of the tall grass prairie by John Madson.
The tall grass prairie is probably the least appreciated of North America's original landscapes. Unlike its western neighbors, the mixed and shortgrass prairies, almost all tall grass prairie has been plowed over. What people see now in its place is millions of acres of corn and soybeans. In the upper Midwest, where I live, there are only a few tiny corners preserved and protected and some odd corners in old cemeteries and abandoned railroads right of way.
Where the Sky Began vividly portrays the original landscape. Characterized by plain but impressive grasses, beautiful forbs, rich wildlife, and immense continental climate, the tall grass prairie possesses striking aspects that are splendidly described by Madson. In addition to the land itself, Madson includes people, but only the European settlers, in his account.
The interest that Madsons book and others like it have sparked has led to a revival of prairie restoration. I see it in State Parks and Wildlife Management areas and on private landholdings like Mr. Sciences 2 acres of restoration. To see what your missing take a look at some random prairie pictures I taken over the years and then download the book on your Kindle or Nook.
Prairie photography and a cornfield
Troutbirder pointing north with the aid of a Compass Plant
Birding on Hayden Prairie 300 acres of virgin prairie in northeastern Iowa.
Lots of flat land between here and the Rocky Mountains...
Baron and a patch of native "shooting stars."
A butterfly stops to check out a purple coneflower.
Native Purple Clover
And the Monarchs favorite plant The Butterfly Weed
Turks Cap Lilies
And tying it all together that most magnificent of tall grasses the Big Bluestem