The Way the Day Unfolds, part 3 of 4 – Patience & Prairie

by Amy Martin (c)

The East Flank remained meadow-like for a while. By the time we got there 50 years later, the cedars had reduced the long meadow into a series of patches and in our first three years we watched the cedars get larger and more numerous. The drought of 2006 made it worse. The seeps stopped flowing. Plants like the surviving oaks and pecans that were on the line, were clearly dying, even the hardy persimmons and sumacs.

So we did the craziest thing: we cut over half of them down. Even though it was in a back-woods area that trucks couldn’t access, making it impossible to bring in shredders or sawmills to transform trees into timber or mulch. But Wade with his small bulldozer-like Bobcat with a table-sized buzz-saw on the front could get back there. He cut and shoved the 30-foot tall cedars into house-sized piles.

Where they remain, housing extended families of raccoons and rabbits no doubt. Too large and too close to the remaining trees to burn, they may be with us for quite a while. Inbetween the piles is some mighty fine prairie to be, a quarter mile long meadow, rimmed with trees that recede and project in lobes and points, creating a deeply curved edge that fosters life.

Decades ago, someone trying to be helpful, probably hunters attempting to attract deer, had seeded the meadow patches with a hybrid bluestem that took over, not much in the way of seed but a fine cover plant for erosion-prone soil. Wandering the nascent prairie on this day, here and there bluestems push through, and partridge pea, a fine forb with a great seed, makes a robust rally, all without any additional seed from us. Hope lives in the memory of the soil.

October 25, 2007