Awakening to the spirit and beauty of the northern Great Plains
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
after the burn
The prairie is greening up in the aftermath of the controlled burning we did earlier in April (see "Fire on the Prairie")This prairie crocus (anenome patens/pulsatilla patens)is standing among dozens of its kind all over the black-becoming-green surface of our upper pastures. Here is another image showing several blossoms amid bunches of grass (perhaps stipa?)now emerging.
In a few weeks, and given the right moisture, only the standing skelatons of wolf willow and other woody plants killed by the burn will show where the flames passed.
The native grass on the edge of Saskatoon's Tipperary Creek burned in an unplanned fire earlier this week on the property of Wanuskewin Heritage Park. (See CBC website story here.)No buildings were damaged, but one bridge was scorched in the coulee. However, the fire department says that "the fire caused 'significant damage' to the surrounding grassland." Can't blame the fire department spokesman for expressing what many others in this part of the world would agree with. Non-indigenous people here harbour a deep-seated animosity to the wildness in a prairie fire. That fire is probably the best thing that has happened to that grassland in decades.
The best thing that happened to me as I walked the land looking at the fire was the time to try out a new lens for my camera. All the photos for this post were taken through a Canon 100-400 (f4.5 to 5.6)zoom telephoto lens. I took some very smudgy shots of kestrels and Krider's red-tailed hawks in flight, some poorly lit and distant images of the first eastern phoebes singing by the cabins, bufflehead on the ponds, and the season's first turkey vultures.
Here are some bird photos that worked a little better--first a mourning dove I flushed from trailside:
Then a dark-eyed junco by our cabin:
And, finally, the song sparrow, back for the summer: