Saturday, November 7, 2009

My Visit to the Prairie

Yesterday, I went to Nine Mile Prairie for my first Artist's Date (more on that later).  Nine Mile Prairie is basically a piece of land (230 acres) that has never been plowed.  It's covered with natural prairie grasses and native trees and is one of the largest of its kind in the Midwest. It strikes me as funny that I've lived in this area for most of my life and I'd never been there!  Maybe if Laura Ingalls Wilder were hanging out there, I would have made a point to visit her sometime within the past 35 years that I've lived here.

After dutifully writing out my morning pages, I put on my hiking shoes (and am sure glad I did!), grabbed my trusty camera, and out the door I went. I didn't even take the dog or my cell phone! While I was there, I walked along the path and waded into the tallgrass to see what it was like.  I also took a few photos (114) and tried to imagine what it would have been like to be a Pioneer, bouncing along in your covered wagon, and having this be the only thing you see for miles and miles.

Even the way the cut the grass for paths reminded me of ruts made from wagon wheels, though more uniform and less muddy.  I covered about 1/3 of the land, following the path they had cut. There's a big "lake"... well... what used to be a lake according to the map and the watermarks on the trees. Right now, it's just a big divot with thick dried up mud in the center.

Here are some hoof prints from the local deer.

A bit further on, I discovered a ravine to explore. Of course there were footholds carved out (barely) and some loose rope tied to steel poles along the side to use a handrail, so someone must have discovered it before I did.  I didn't really trust the setup, but used it anyway.  I climbed down into it, and it was maybe five feet wide at its base.  I took a few photos, looked around, listened for animals that I swear were staring at me, and then fought my way back to the top the way I came.  THEN I realized that it was a dead end. So I went back to the edge of it and looked across and sure enough, there was another "stairway" on the other side and the path continued on.  So back down I went and up the other embankment.

After stopping to study some Milkweed going to seed, the path wound around the Airport Authority's fence line and I ended up back where I started.

I was out there for about an hour and a half and boy can I feel it in my legs today!  It was about 70 degrees yesterday, so once the clouds cleared a bit, it was really nice out there.  It's sunny now and if I had the car here, I would be really tempted to go back and try my hand at more photos!  It's funny what you see in them once you see them enlarged on your screen.

This little field trip is part of the program called The Artist's Way that I just started.  It's to help me get in touch with my creative side a bit more.  My work on my family tree does feel creative, but it's also giving me new ideas on how to pursue it further.  I want to incorporate more storytelling into it, but find myself blogging in more of a fact-after-fact way.  I want to add more photos, too, to show what it was like to live back then.  Things looked vastly different and even day to day living was all-encompassing.  Already, I'm starting to feel my brain loosen up and the words are flowing better.  Hopefully this trend will continue and you'll have easier reading from here on out.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. Love that you're doing the artist's way. I need to get back to that. It's so effective. Let me know how it goes for you.