After a few days of rain, the prairie was slick and vibrant. The best part of the morning came early, when the dew still coated every exposed surface. At the base of the grasses was suspended a puddle of rainbow, water trapped in a tight-woven net of silk. Each strand refracted sunlight, like in the spray of a waterfall, and together the whole image was as a washed watercolor palate. Just below, a single quaternary river pebble was visible, appearing like the oblong spider-hole entryway one might suspect from such a web. But here there was no break or entrance, only the net. Like a puddle blue sky in sandstone-captured rainwater or vermillion drops of wildfire and sunset in the distant lakes of a late-summer mountain range (in this case I’m thinking of a day at Medicine Wheel in the Bighorns). An image held (not painted) just for a moment by a particular set of circumstances, including my own position and point of view. It was pretty amazing. I didn’t try to take a photo.
The water has also popped up more mushrooms than I have ever seen, and everywhere, including a tan cup-shaped fungus at the edge of the fireline. And flowers are still blooming–waterleaf, primrose, and fleabane .
A particular flower in abundance right now is the prairie spiderwort (Tradescantia occidentalis), referenced in love songs by Dakota men. The flowers are as striking in purple as larkspur are in royal blue, with a simple geometry and yellow anthers. Leaves are long and narrow, their clean curves reaching outward like elegant stick figures or calligraphy from a thin brush. The whole plant is edible. I could imagine a beautiful salad of greens with spiderworts and star lilies as garnish (if only they bloomed at the same time). The ‘spider’ in the name comes from the stretchy ‘sap’ that emerges when the plant is broken.
Yucca are also in bloom on the high ridges, flowers open for the mutually dependent yucca moth. And the prairie dogs added a particular wheezing/wimpering sound to their regular warning barks when I walked by. A single pronghorn buck was the only hoofed visitor, but it did grunt at me as it paused to look back.