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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.

The Sensuous Prairie

Prairie Notes #147
March 1, 2019

01) The Sensuous Prairie

02) Your Membership STILL Matters

03) Field Report - February

04) New Species - February

05) Trout Lily Walk Report

06) Are You Certified?

07) PrairieSky / StarParty is Back

08) The Amazing Spittlebug

09) Prairie Proverb - The Flame and the FLower

 

 

01) The Sensuous Prairie

 

"I know it when I see it."

 

Thus spake, Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart, in 1964 when he delivered what became the most well-known line related to the detection of hard-core pornography. By today's standards, his statement is highly suspect and certainly biased. However, there is some truth to his judgement that I think most people get, despite the subjective reasoning. This may seem an odd way to begin a newsletter devoted to nature musings but, stay with me.

 

I'm not the first to suggest that, to fully appreciate nature it helps to use all your senses including your sense of awe. But sometimes, it's fun to turn off one's intellect and let the natural world wash over your senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste, without trying to undertsand it on an intellectual or scientific level. It can be a seductive experience.

 

Which brings me to my idea of Tandy Hills as a "sensuous" prairie. On Valentine's Day I was conetmplating my next Prairie Notes topic, knowing that spring is on the verge of exploding in its grand glory. (March 20 to be exact) As I looked over my photos of wildflowers and insects it occurred to me how sensuous many of them looked.

 

To my subjective mind, some images evoked both masculine and feminine qualities such as, lush, fleshy, succulent, hirsute, earthy, ripe, sticky, moist, pendulant, delectable, steamy, provacative, voluptuous, tantalizing, amorous and seductive, all words associated with human sexulatity. Luckily, the poet and man of letters, John Milton, deliberately, coined the term, "sensuous", to evoke a sensory experience free from sexual overtones. That's mostly my aim here, as well. Still, it's worth noting that, flowers and insects do have sex.

 

Another factor in this exercise is the attribution of human characteristics to plants known as, anthropomorphism. It's a curious habit of humans, one usually associated with animals rather than plants. (Think Walt Disney) However, a recent essay titled, "People are Blind to Plants and That's Bad News for Conservation", argues that, anthropomorphism of plants may help people emphatise more with the ecosystems that support those cuddly animals. In any case, of these 50 photos, chosen by own subjective and biased impressions, none are obscene, and are suitable for all ages.

 

But, if you are like me, you'll know it when you see it. Results may vary. 

 

 

DY

 

 


A sensuous prairie hillock of grasses and wildflowers

 

American Basketflower (Centaurea americana)

 

American Bumblebee pollinating Trailing Antelopehorns Milkweed (Asclepias asperula)

 


Antelopehorns Milkweed

 


Barbara's Buttons (Marshallia caespitosa)

 


Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium sp.)

 


Cardinal egg dropped on the prairie by a thieving Crow.

 


A mating pair of Cloudless Sulphur Butterflies

 


Yellow Compassplant (Silphium lacinatum)

 


Drummond's Onion

 


Bee pollinating Engelmann Sage (Salvia engelmanniia)

 

False Foxglove (Penstemon coabaea) and Crab Spider

 


False Foxglove (Penstemon coabaea)

 


Giant Blue Sage (Salvia azurea var grandiflora)

 

An inviting Autumn mattress of prairie grass

 


A pair of Grasshoppers horsing around

 


Great Plains Ladies Tresses Orchid (Spiranthes magnicamporum)

 

Grooved Nipple Cactus flower (Coryphantha sulcata)

 


Ground Plum (Astragulas crassicarpus)

 


Hairy Grama Grass (Bouteloua hirsuta)

 

Indian Plantain (Arnoglossum plantagineum)

 


Missouri Primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa)

 

Missouri Primrose flower bud

 


Osage False Foxglove (Agalinis densiflora)

 


Prairie Celestial (Nemastylis geminiflora)

 


Prairie False Willow (Baccharis texana)

 


Purple Coneflower (white variant) (Echinacea angustifolia)

 

Purple Leatherflower (Clematis pitcheri)

 


Purple Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea)

 

Early spring tendrils of Purple Indian Paintbrush 

 

Queen's Delight (Stillingia texana) hosting some beetles on its sticky stem

 

Sawleaf Daisy young leaves

 


Sawlwaf Daisy bloom (Grindelia papposa)

 


Stork's Bill (Erodium texanum)

 

Texas Blue Star (Amsonia cillate var texana)

 

Texas Bluebell (Eustoma exaltatum subsp russellianum)

 


Texas Prairie Parsley (Polytaenia nuttallii)

 


Texas Thistle (Cirsium texanum)

 

Trailing Krameria (Krameria lanceolata)

 

Trout Lily bud and tender leaves (Erythronium albidum)

 

Trout Lily

 


Two-flower Milkvine (Matelea biflora)

 


Two-flower Milkvine

 


Two-Leaf Senna (Senna roemeriana)

 

Two-Leaf Senna

 


Tender sspring growth of Wand Milkweed (Asclepias viriflora) 

 


Wand Milkweed mature flowers

 

Wild Hyacinth (Caamassia scilloides)

 


Yellow Neptunia (Neptunia lutea)

 


The sensuous world of Tandy Hills will always welcome lovers.

 

 

02) Your Membership STILL Matters!

 

Your membership supports the work of keeping Tandy Hills a viable recreational and educational destination. You can take care of that right now, in less than 3 minutes, by clicking HERE: 

 

http://www.tandyhills.org/donate

 

 

03) Field Report - February

 

Besides the much admired Trout Lilies, there were a few other subtle signs of spring on an otherwise bleak, winter landscape. A few nice days of Female Rain helped keep things moist for the spring growth. Check 'em out!

 

The little flower wirth a big following had its close-up in February.

 


A Gulf Coast Toad was found snuggled in its secret place on one of the hills.

 

An unknown person set several more fires in February adding to anticipation of spring regrowth.

 


Once rarely seen at Tandy Hills, Wedge Leaf Whitlow-Grass (Draba cuneifolia) is having an exceptional year.

 


Ground Plum (Astragalus crassicarpus) can be counted on for a bit of bright color in late winter.

 

Fresh Rabbit pellets have not been seen in a couple of years. I hope they can outrun the Coyotes.

 


We were greetd by a stunning sunset on February 21.

 

04) New Species - February

 

Two new species were ID'd on the Tandy Hills iNaturalist project page in February.

 

Bob O'Kennon, found and ID'd, Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima), and wrote the following:  "It is native to China. Introduced to USA in 1850. In some areas it is considered invasive. Rather uncommon in this area. This is the first one I have seen at Tandy Hills. It is very inconspicuous when not in flower."

 

Sam Kieschnick ID'd the genus of a new parasitic fungus called, Synchytrium, seen below on a Stork's-Bill leaf:

 

Winter Honeysuckle

 

Genus: Synchytrium

 

 

05) Trout Lily Walk Report

 

Speaking of Sam Kieschnick, he beguiled a crowd of 43 TL afficionados on February 24 with his passion and wisdom of Trout Lilies and much more. Thank you Sam! 

 

 


Photos by, Scott Carson Ausburn. Used with permission

 

 

06) Are You Certified?

 

More and more people are getting rid of their unsustainable and water wasting American lawns and turning them into more natural wildlife sanctuaries. It's an idea whose time has come. If you need help getting started, two good sources of information are, The National Wildlife Federation and Texas Parks & Wildlife programs. Plus, you can get cool signs to post in your yard that might inspire others to do the same. Get with the program HERE:

 

https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/wildscapes/wildscape_certification.phtml

 


 

 

07) PrairieSky / StarParty is Back

 

The party begins anew on March 16 when telescope-bearing sky watchers from the Fort Worth Astronomical Society (FWAS), set up shop on the Tandy Hills. Be there at dark-thirty. FWAS rep, Pam Kloepfer, sent the following synopsis of what is happening up above.

 

March heralds the arrival of the Spring Equinox on March 20, along with the Full Moon. On March 16, many of our glorious winter constellations will be heading west, but will still be in view. The Pleiades star cluster can be observed with the naked eye and is a lovely binocular target, along with the Hyades in Taurus the Bull. Orion the Hunter will be spreading across the west. The magnificent Orion Nebula in the great hunter’s sword can best be viewed through a telescope. The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, can be seen in the constellation Canis Major the dog, and the twins of Gemini, Castor and Pollux, will be overhead. The only planet visible will be red Mars as it heads west. The waxing gibbous moon will be visible all night!

 

 

 

 

08) The Amazing Spittlebug

 

The two main things that get the attention of Kids on the Prairie are animal scat and Spittlebugs. Well, maybe three if you count, Flamin' Hot Cheetos. The New York Times Digital Science section recently published a very cool video about the amazing Spittlebug that you may find as fascinating and educational as I did. How the Spittlebug Builds its Bubbly Fortress:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/video/science/100000006346172/how-the-spittlebug...

 

 

09) Prairie Proverb

 

“Heather, this tiny purple flower from the moors, has dined upon my heart and now it grows within her….”

 

- A great example of anthropomorphism, from the book, The Flame and the Flower—by Midwestern homemaker Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. Considered the first modern “bodice ripper”, the book was published in paperback, after having been rejected by multiple hardback publishers. By 1977, it had sold 2,580,000 copies.

 

 

 

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.