Two muddy hikes in the last week were a reminder of the unpredictable nature of the prairie in winter. The warmer days did give a few days respite to otherwise dormant prairie dogs. Puddles of water and sunshine also created friendly microclimates for moss growth, which made for a bit of green on the rocks, and for shoots of cheat grass, especially where protected by dead mats of mustard and cheat grass from last year. The fringed-leaf sagewort were also sending up new leaves, as well. We spotted lots of deer and elk scat and a few magpies and crows. A flock of pinyon jays was hopping around on the rocks, presumably searching for insects (of which I saw two shiny black wasp-looking flyers). A drumming sound led me to a tree expecting to see a woodpecker, but instead a chickadee was pecking into the bark. Otherwise, though, the prairie was quiet. I did spend a lot of time looking at the dried stalks of grasses and flowers, reminded of the biodiversity of the summertime by the number of different shapes and sizes of leftover “post-mature” plants. As many of those plants spend a much shorter time in green and flowering stages than they do in this dried form, a guide to identifying them as they are in winter would be quite useful.