by Kathy Larson
Iowa winter has been warmer and drier than normal. In fact, it wasn’t until nearly mid-January that we had our first real snowfall.
With a fluffy blanket of four inches of fresh snow covering the prairie, I grabbed tall boots and camera and headed out to take a look.
I expected to see a lot of tracks, but the winds were still blowing the light snow around, keeping the surface smooth except for a few small snow tunnels.
The tall grasses lean over, and, with the other prairie plants, form small caves that are havens for rabbits and rodents.
The abundance of seeds produced by the prairie’s grasses and forbs have mostly been harvested and stored as winter food. Viburnum berries still cling to the bushes edging part of the prairie.
Other than the biting wind, all was still. I could almost imagine myself wandering, lost on a winter prairie of the 1800s, when it was not uncommon for settlers to be caught in a snowstorm and not be able to make their way home.
As I made my way along the path, I played a little game to see how many of the plants I could still identify. Their dark shapes against the snowy whiteness was striking.