Monday, April 21, 2008

Festival of Pasques

Pasqueflowers, with a small pollinator, in McKnight Prairie.

The pasqueflowers (anemone patens) are throwing a party on the ridges of McKnight Prairie. According to tradition, pasques bloom during the week before Easter, and in my experience this has often been the case. This year, Easter was early and spring was slow to arrive, but I'm happy to report that the pasqueflowers are blooming in time for Greek Orthodox Easter this coming Sunday. Pasques always seem festive to me. In his Journal of a Prairie Year (1985), the late Paul Gruchow wrote: "Pasqueflowers bloom at an inhospitable time in a quirky season. They carry the impression of wit and grace. If a pasqueflower were a person, one would want to have it come to dinner at the first opportunity. Surely, that would be the occasion for much laughter and bright conversation." In A Sand County Almanac, Aldo Leopold had a different impression of the personality of pasqueflowers; he wrote that they "endure snows, sleets, and bitter winds for the privilege of blooming alone." They are the first flowers to bloom on the high, exposed ridges of the prairie, but the clusters of pastel flowers are bright and cheerful. It always fills me with hope and gratitude to see them blooming among the brown grasses, year after year.

Pasqueflowers in McKnight Prairie

Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum), pictured above, was also preparing to bloom at McKnight, and as I was walking back to the car, I startled one of our state mammals, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel (better known as the "golden gopher"), from the middle of the path.

On the way home, I drove along 42 and 79 and into Northfield on Wall Street Rd. Along the way, I passed this monstrosity going up in the "Rosewood" development. There was a Sold sign up in front of this monstrosity. Is this a private, single-family home? Someone with this much money can probably afford to feed a small African nation—or invite a small African nation over to spend the night. After spending a pleasant half hour with the inexpressibly beautiful and unpretentious pasqueflowers—so perfectly adapted to their environment—the sight of this made me sick.

If you go out to McKnight Prairie, keep to the path, walk gently, don't pick anything or leave anything behind, and be grateful that a few such places still exist beyond the conspicuous excesses of modern sprawl.

In other news, my poem "Jane Austen's Toes" has been nominated by the editor of the Apple Valley Review for inclusion in Best New Poets 2008. A nomination doesn't guarantee inclusion in the book, but it is a much-appreciated honor.


Clara said...

Hope you took the dog!

Penelope said...

Ah, life's ironic juxtapositions... My reaction would have been much the same as yours.

Excellent news about your delightful poem!

Jim H. said...

The stately mansions of Summit Avenue don't seem to evoke the same discordant sense. What is it about these big houses stuck out in a former soy bean field that makes us mutter and shake our heads?

Anonymous said...

Good news about your nomination, and best wishes. I have recently had a photograph of mine published and it gave me quite a thrill.

Christopher Tassava said...

Oh, man. I have been meaning to go out to the McKnight Prairie for a long time. This spring, I will. It's work-related!

I've been watching that "house" go up for months and months, since they first graded the lot last summer. I had hoped at first that the financing fell through, but no, it slowly crept up and out all winter long, and now hulks there, staring north with those big dead window-eyes. There are a lot of ugly McMansions in our subbdivision, but this one's at the top of the list now.

Shan said...

It is SO FUNNY that you mention this house today. I was at a baby playgroup this a.m. during which this house was a topic of conversation! No one can believe its size and ostentatiousness, but a couple of the moms at this playgroup know the family moving in (apparently a pair of doctors, with three small children). I told these moms that I run past that house about 3 times a week (we live very near there, though I always feel odd telling people that I live in that neighborhood because I fear they assume I live in one of the giant houses, whereas in actuality we live on the "wrong side of the tracks," as it were, in the row of townhouses at the very bottom of the hill on the near edge of the subdivision. I constantly feel like we do not belong!), and I've therefore witnessed its entire construction over the fall/winter/spring. I can hardly believe just one family could inhabit such a giant house. I wish Northfield would stop sprawling and turning into a collection of McMansions.

Shan said...

P.S. Congrats on the poem!

New Poem: "Phrasebook"

My poem " Phrasebook " has been published online in Ergon: Greek/American Arts and Letters .