Posts Tagged ‘little bluestem grass’

A Cloudy Day Short Hike

It may not have been a bright sunny day (early in February). At least it was near freezing, and a light snow began falling. Buffy and I just had to get out before the next weather possibility.

A pretty day doesn’t have to be bright and sunny.

IMG_7393 red

This grassy expanse, on my rural property, is a sandstone barrens. There’s another barrens on the other side of the ravine. Little bluestem grass is the dominate plant.

IMG_7399 red

Last night’s heavy rain increased

IMG_7410 red

the flow in the creek.

IMG_7419 red

It didn’t look like anybody was at home.

IMG_7415 red

Sandstone outcroppings occur commonly along the ravine.

IMG_7425 red

I call this outcrop “my rock.” It has a natural seat (top left) where I sit and enjoy the view.

IMG_7426 red

View to the left (north).

IMG_7427 red

View in the front (east) and

IMG_7428 red

 view to the right (south).

IMG_7394 red

The little bluestem grew taller last summer than I’ve ever seen it before. The stalks grew to my height and even more. I’ve seen it less than 3 feet during severe drought years.

IMG_7444 red

Mini snow cones for sale?

IMG_7470 crop red

We passed five deer feeding near the road on our way home.

Advertisements

Trees Filled With Stars

Years and years ago I read  writing by either Edwin Way Teale or Hal Borland (think Teale). He and his wife went for a winter night hike to see the trees filled with stars. Naturally, I had to check the woods in the ravine at my rural property. Davis (my youngest son) and I dressed warmly, got our flashlights and headed down.

It has to be a moonless sky and no clouds.

IMG_4747 too too red. too

We first entered the woods and sat on “my rock” at the top of a small bluff. Stars FILLED the trees. We sat there. Geese flew over, honking. Our next stop was a downed tree near the dry creek. Davis had a small flashlight and sat investigating the bark on a small tree. He found a tiny hole with lichens around it and a teeny mushroom in it.

After going back across the creek, we laid under a tree I called the Grandmother Tree with our heads near the trunk. The limbs made it look like a giant spider standing over us.

We walked out of the woods. I wondered if stars filled the little bluestem grass too. The tall grass stalks made the barrens look like a prairie. We laid in the grass, his head on my shoulder and mine on his. Stars filled the grass too. An owl hooted. Another answered.

That was 23 years ago when Davis was 9. The hike is still a vivid memory for both of us.

———-

I took this picture on a cloudy day and then darkened it considerably in Photoshop and added the stars.

Sandstone Barrens

You won’t find me and Buffy staying home when the temperature’s to reach 70 today and then drop to 33 tomorrow. We made a casual loop thru both barrens and the ravine.

My property is U-shaped with 13 acres of Shawnee National Forest land coming in the center from the south. A wet-weather creek runs through the wooded ravine (left in the picture). Woods and a sandstone barrens occur on both sides of the ravine. A barrens is a grassy plant community, similar to a prairie, only with more trees.

My property is a registered Land and Water Reserve, a program through the Natural Heritage Division of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It was accepted as a reserve because of the barrens, which is an uncommon plant community, and because of a few threatened and endangered plant species. A Land and Water Reserve is one step below a nature preserve. It allows us to hunt and camp on the land. Neither are allowed on nature preserves. ATV’s, horses and trespassing are not allowed. We aren’t allowed to cut trees or do anything to alter the land. It will always remain a reserve.

The trees in the barrens are predominately oaks and hickories … and pesky sumacs. The state does prescribed burns, alternating barrens, according to the management plan. Without these burns, the sumacs would increase along with other trees, and the barrens would eventually become a woodlands. Fire doesn’t hurt the prairie plants because of their deep root systems. It does control invasive plants which have shallow roots.

The height of the little bluestem grass and the abundance of flowering plants depends on the amount of rainfall through the growing season. The tall grass in the barrens is beautiful covered with dew in the early morning, with snow and/or ice in the winter, when the tall seeded stalks blow in the wind, and late in the summer when flowers bloom in abundance and in many colors. The barrens is also definitely beautiful in the light of a full moon.