After the Storms

We’ve calmed a bit here at Hilltop. The shock and frustration have worn off, and I’ve been telling myself that the mowing incident was simply a mistake. Probably, a mower was just gleefully gobbling up the green and didn’t realize where s/he was. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, that’s what I’m saying inside my head.

Besides, the prairie has been here for millions of years. What’s one mow job? For the short time we’ve allowed full growth, all kinds of native plants have popped up their heads. They’ll come again. 

My morning walks through the prairie are like treasure hunts as I eagerly search to see who’s new to the neighborhood, greet them (Hello! Who are you? Are you alone?), crouch down for inspection (What’s that color? Can I see your stem? Are your leaves alternating?), then rush into the house (Be back in a second! Don’t go anywhere!) to try to identify them online. (Please be native. Please be native. Please be native.)

Recently, after a thundering night dumped nine inches of rain across the county, Mr. Hilltop and I sighed with exhaustion when we learned that part of the driveway (a winding, one-laned, steep, switch-backish sort of thing with crumbling 30-year-old asphalt) had been washed over with debris from the woods.

A tired and dirty turtle scrambles for the woods after being abused by torrential rains. Poor guy probably spent days getting back to the hilltop after the gully washers catapulted him into the cow pasture down below.

Rather than spend the morning talking to the prairie, I was designated the debris cleaner-upper. As the Hilltop Person with the most flexible weekday schedule, it was only fair. Lucky me. Really! While clearing tree limbs, limestone rocks and muddy chunks of asphalt from the driveway and county road below, a flash of purplish blue winked at me from the edge of the woods. 

Well hello there, pretties. Who are you?

I ran up the hill (stopping twice to gasp for air like a drowning person — okay, okay — I had to stop three times and it felt more like a heart attack). Once up top, I beelined for the laptop in the kitchen to look at my now-favorite wildflower identification site: Kansas Wildflowers & Grasses. We’re not in Kansas, but we’re close enough to see Dorothy fly by in her house. (And her little dog, too.)

Limestone Ruellia (Ruellia strepens L.), with a little stand of buffalo grass

Found them easily in the “Blue, Purple, Lavender & Violet” section under “Blooming in May.” Yippee! (The dogs came running to see what fabulous snack I’d found because surely that’s the only thing worth being excited over.) The blue lovelies are “limestone wild petunias” — natives. They get to stay.

Sometimes thundershowers help you find wildflowers — even if it takes clearing debris to see them. And maybe someday, neighbors with different views on mowing can come to a friendly understanding.

Next time … Plant sleuthing continues (who you be? where you from?)

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2 Responses to After the Storms

  1. hungryholler says:

    Thanks for identifying the ‘tunia. We get those little darlings in our pasture and I love them.

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