Snow-covered Curtis Prairie
The prairie continually renews itself by adapting to, and changing with the conditions. I like to think that visitors to the prairie absorb some of the optimism, sturdiness, and flexibility inherent in the prairie ecosystem.
At least once a week I walk over to the Madison Arboretum to visit Curtis Prairie. I’m fortunate that it is a short distance away. I enjoy the prairie in the winter because of the peace, quiet, and solitude. And I take delight in the wildlife I can see if I look closely.
Curtis Prairie is striking at all times, but especially in the winter when covered by snow. I always take along my camera and try to capture a few good images. These are some of my favorites from over the years.
The beauty of the winter prairie is in the details of stem and leaf; twig and trunk. In part, the prairie’s beauty is also in its many subtle shades and hues of brown, red, orange, and black.
Curtis Prairie is more than just a prairie. It is a mosaic of different plant community types: prairie, wetland, sedge meadow, springs, storm water ponds, and shrub thickets, among others. This diverse landscape explains some of its flexibility and why it is such great habitat for birds, insects, amphibians, mammals and, of course, the humans who enjoy visiting.
In early March, the winter stems of red osier dogwood (Cornus sanguina) in this natural wetland area in Curtis Prairie, have already turned red, anticipating the arrival of spring.
The promise of spring and better things ahead are how I want to think about 2018, especially after all we have been through in 2017. Let’s bid 2017 a farewell, take what lessons we can, and look forward to 2018 with optimism, and the recognition that lots of hard work lies ahead if we are to shake off the effects of 2017 and get back on track.