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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Vernal Equinox

Prairie Notes:
March 21, 2009

Field report

I was so busy yesterday, preparing for the 4th annual Fort Worth Prairie Fest, that I forgot to look up when the center of the Sun crossed the equator in the celestial sphere at 8:44 am CDT. The vernal equinox has come and gone. Dang! I hate it when that happens.

The winds of mid-March whistle through the TV towers above Tandy Hills like the ghosts of Indians past. The trees are adorned with kites and plastic bags. A pair of Screech Owls have arrived, testing the mettle of the scurrying field mice. Tiny-legged Ground Skinks are on the move again, "swimming" like quicksilver through the mysterious world underfoot. A Cooper's Hawk, sliced overhead yesterday, reminding me of who rules the air around here. Learn more about the birds of Tandy Hills in Tom Steven's excellent, Tandy Hills-Stratford Parks Ornithological Assessment.

Ground Skink
Ground Skink

Spring wildflowers are starting to pop out like stars in a twilight sky. Purple Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) and Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) are bravely basking in the sun after the recent rain. Soon, the meadows along View Street will be filled, edge to edge, with these uncommon wildflowers. The even more rare and heavenly-scented, Blue Star (Amsonia ciliata var. texana), has staked out its place on prairie Earth. (As always, tread very carefully around these treasures.)

Puccoon
Puccoon

Purple Paintbrush
Purple Paintbrush

Blue Star
Blue Star

A cascading wave of wildflowers and grasses are on a collision course with Prairie Fest on April 25th.
Mark your calendars.

Fort Worth Prairie Fest
In other news-

On more than one occasion, I have playfully encouraged you to "come to the meadow" for the therapeutic value of interacting with nature. City dwellers, young and old, need a place to slow down and unplug from the grinding urban environment if they wish to retain their sanity.
Turns out that, a hike in THNA can also improve your memory, making you smarter.

In a new report from the University of Michigan titled, The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature, researchers conclude that a walk in nature does even more than restoreth thy soul. By employing something called, Attention Restoration Theory (ART), in controlled experiments, they have scientifically documented what nature mystics such as, Edward Abbey, have always known: Wilderness isn't just a luxury but a vital part of what we are.

Edward Abbey
Edward Abbey

The study also validates my own hypothesis that, to pay attention to nature is to appreciate it, which in turn, nurtures a desire to protect and defend it. Perhaps, this is nature's way of making sure our own survival is dependent on us protecting the world that we inhabit. In other words, it's not nice to fool Mother Nature.

Come to the meadow where experiments in tall grass napping and wildflower gazing are breaking new ground in scientific research.

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