I needed a walk in the prairie the other evening. There are times when I just need to change focus and think about something besides my own life, and hiking through a grassland is the perfect tonic.
Our family prairie was resplendent in golds and browns as the sun was going down. As the last light hit the fuzzy seed heads of stiff goldenrod and other late season wildflowers, the plants seemed to glow – as did the numerous thin strands of spider silk strung between the plants.
Stiff goldenrod seeds tenuously held by a stray strand of spider silk.
More stiff goldenrod seeds.
As the sun continued to sink, I kept climbing uphill – until I finally ran out of light completely. Just as the sun was dropping below the horizon, I spotted a wild lettuce plant with its beautiful wispy seeds waving in the gentle breeze. I had just enough time to capture one image before the sun disappeared.
Wild lettuce seeds at sundown. Helzer Family Prairie, near Stockham, Nebraska.
I stood up, stretched, and enjoyed my long walk back to the truck. The world looked pretty good…
I don’t usually think about photographing insects during the winter, but I found this tiny tree hopper crawling on my kitchen sink last night.
I’m pretty sure the tree hopper hitchhiked to my house in a bag of lettuce. I don’t think it’s going to cause any ecological problems, but it’s a good reminder of the ease with which invasive species can move around the world. I have no idea where that bag of lettuce was harvested, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t come from here in Nebraska.
Now the question is – what do I do with it? It’s not going to survive long in the ziplock bag it’s in right now. Do I let it roam around the house? Do I put it outside in the freezing cold? Do I put it back in the lettuce bag?