I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and nature to me was towering red cedar trees draped with moss, and rocky beaches covered with sea anemones and urchins. These things are not present in Minnesota, and I miss them. Bland fields of corn and soybeans are boring, completely lacking in majesty and complexity. I used to dream of retiring to some battered old seaside town in my old age, escaping the dreary farm fields of the Midwest.
It’s not happening.
But after nearly 25 years of living here, it’s beginning to grow on me. Focusing on native arthropods has helped, and the realization that this place shouldn’t be about corn is also liberating. The prairie is deeply interesting…it’s just that cornfields are not the prairie. They’re the antithesis of prairie. Getting down close and peering into a mess of wild plants while looking for spiders is enlightening.
Also, I’m really liking this guy. The enthusiasm is infectious. We’ve got a vigorous stand of native prairie plants growing right outside my lab window, and it’s got me thinking that, when the fall is a little further along and the pods start to dry out, I might harvest a few seeds and pot a few at home, or scatter them in my yard.
That bit of restored prairie looks so much nicer than the impoverished lawn surrounding my house.