Thursday, July 24, 2008

We're heading into one of my favorite parts of summer. It's the time when the prairie's palette starts to really get full. Currently, among the common roadside plants, one can see the oranges from the butterfly weed, the purple flowers from the lead plant and the yellows from the grey-headed coneflowers. A little more searching and purple coneflowers, purple prairie clover, and one of my favorites, common spiderwort can be found. I like the spiderwort for a few reasons. First it produces a lovely, delicate bluish flower. However, the cool thing about the flower isn't just the color. It's the fact that each bloom lasts for only one day. Each day for a couple of weeks each plant produces a single flower that blooms just at dawn and by mid-morning has folded into a small gelatinous sack that will eventually form a seed. The gooey mass in the sack is a dark blue and was used by indigenous peoples of the prairie to make a form of paint.
One of the reasons I love the prairie is the vast diversity of life that lives there. The prairie is a harsh place to live. Drought, severe heat or cold, and excessive moisture are part of life on the prairie. However, the plants and animals that live there have adapted to these harsh conditions which means there will always be prairie. It is that diversity that shields the prairie from these harsh conditions. It is that diversity in nature that should remind us, as humans and part of creation, we need to embrace the diversity of humanity as well. Just as the prairie has evolved and flourished through diversity so too should humanity.
Before summer is over, I'd encourage you to do a prairie walk. Get out and experience some diversity. If you need some places to look, let me know.

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