Hubbard Fellowship Blog – Olivia Loves November

This post was written by Olivia Schouten, one of our Hubbard Fellows.  She sent me the text and photos the other day and told me the post needed to go up before the end of the month.  I made it…  barely.  Please keep sending in your limericks – I’ll share my favorites next week. – CH

So autumn is officially here on the Platte Prairies in Nebraska. I know that for many this change in season isn’t the most welcome. All of the green leaves the world, birds and other animals disappear, and we know that winter isn’t far behind. October is enjoyed by many, with the arrival of pumpkin spiced flavoring, colorful foliage, Halloween, and the remaining possibility of warm days. But then November arrives and those warm autumnal feelings are gone, leaving only the bare skeletons of trees and cold winds. There isn’t even snow (usually) to lend something different and interesting to the landscape, or the excitement and buzz of the coming holiday season of December and early January to break the monotony.

The thing is… November is my favorite month. I look forward to it arriving every year, and breathe a deep sigh of relief when it does. This is when I find the temperatures most enjoyable, the landscape the most beautiful, and the wind most refreshing. I feel energized and cozy during November, and savor every day that I can. Part of this probably stems from my enjoyment of Thanksgiving (I resist the encroachment of Christmas for as long as I can), but honestly, I just think it’s a beautiful time of year.

To me, there’s nothing better than a mid-40 degree day in the middle of November, some sunshine, a brisk wind, all of the leaves knocked off the trees, and every plant in the prairie dried up and senesced for the winter. Oh, except a cloudy day might be even better (if only because those are the perfect days to wear really cozy clothes and make a big mug of hot chocolate).

Seem a little crazy? Well, hear me out. I’ve found that mid-40s is the perfect temperature for working outdoors. It’s not freezing, but it’s cold enough that you can drive t-posts or cut down trees all day without sweating constantly or tiring out. It’s also the perfect temperature for long walks out on the prairie or in the woods. The air smells delicious, clear of all that humidity from summer and scented with earthy, dried prairie grasses. The sun is lower in the sky, so it’s less harsh on the eyes and flattering for the landscape. And the colors!

Browns and golds and rusted oranges and warm grays…everything about the landscape in November is just perfect. Trees are exposed so you can see the intricate ways their branches grow, and the subtle patterns in their bark. Tree lines become fuzzy gray-brown conglomerates, accented here and there by the deep rust of oaks reluctant to let their leaves go. The trees break up the line between clear blue skies and the golden ground beneath. Whether they are harvested corn fields or dormant prairies, nothing beats that shimmering color of the landscape in November. And the land literally shimmers in November. Walk west through a prairie at sunset and I think you’ll see why I love this time of year.

Photo of the Week – November 16, 2018

Earlier this week, I was looking through some of my 2018 photos and came across a few shots of prairie wild rose (Rosa arkansana) I’d forgotten about.  I took a few minutes to go looking for some older images as well, and chose some of my favorites for today’s post. 

Wild rose is one of the more attractive and prominent wildflowers in our prairies during June, more so because they often occur in large rhizomatous clones.  Many invertebrates find them attractive as well, especially the large, prominent, and pollen-packed anthers.  Later in the year, their hips (fruits) also become important food sources (and nice photo subjects) but today’s post is all about the flowers.

A tiny weevil feeds on pollen.
A long-horned beetle – also feeding on pollen.
Hover flies are very common visitors.
And, of course,opportunistic crab spiders often pick off unwary flower visitors, including this hover fly.