The disappearance of a major natural unit of vegetation from the face of the earth is an event worthy of causing pause and consideration by any nation. Yet so gradually has the prairie been conquered by the breaking plow, the tractor, and the overcrowded herds of man…that scant attention has been given to the significance of this endless grassland or the course of its destruction. Civilized man is destroying a masterpiece of nature without recording for posterity that which he has destroyed. ~ John Ernest Weaver, North American Prairie (1954)
I like to think of landscape not as a fixed placed but as a path that is unwinding before my eyes, under my feet. ~ Gretel Ehrlich
. . . the joy of prairie lies in its subtlety. It is so easy—too easy—to be swept away by mountain and ocean vistas. A prairie, on the other hand, requests the favor of your closer attention. It does not divulge itself to mere passersby. ~ Suzanne Winckler (2004, Prairie: A North American Guide)
. . . there don’t seem to be words, let alone colors, to do justice to the land and sky-scape that surrounds me . . . as empty as this place can seem, a person might never weary of looking at the land and sky. ~ Kathleen Norris, Introduction to On the Plains (1999)
The sea, the woods, the mountains, all suffer in comparison with the prairie. . . The prairie has a stronger hold upon the senses. Its sublimity arises from its unbounded extent, its barren monotony and desolation, its still, unmoved, calm, stern, almost self-confident grandeur, its strange power of deception, its want of echo, and, in fine, its power of throwing a man back upon himself. ~ Albert Pike (1831-32, Journeys in the Prairie)
A world of grass and flowers stretched around me, rising and falling in gentle undulations, as if an enchanter had struck the ocean swell, and it was at rest forever. . . ~ Eliza Steele, Summer Journey in the West (1840)
“Grasslands challenge our senses, calling us to open our eyes to impossibly broad horizons and then, in the very next breath, to focus on some impossibly tiny critter hidden in the grass.” ~ James R. Page, Wild Prairie: A Photographer’s Personal Journey (2005)
It seems to be a constant contradiction of itself. It is delicate, yet resilient; it appears to be simple, but closer inspection indicates that it is extremely complex; it may appear monotonous, but it is diverse and ever-changing throughout the seasons. ~ James Stubbendieck (1988)
Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Today I offer you a few photographs of the prairie combined with quotations that describe the prairie in America’s Midwest throughout its recent (200 year) history with man. There isn’t much prairie left to see, but whenever I walk in a remnant, I feel awed by the possibility of a prairie that goes as far as the eye can see.
Visit Bo’s website and daily photoblog for more photos and current information.
A visit to Door County is hardly complete until one experiences a Door County Fish Boil, a Scandinavian tradition. Now the Fish Boil is a tourist attraction, but in the 1800s it was the most expedient and cheapest way to feed the masses of fisherman and other workers in a sparsely populated area.
It is cooking at its simplest. Outdoors over a log fire. A huge black kettle. Plenty of salt water. Basic ingredients – potatoes, onions, and Lake Michigan Whitefish. Tradition has given way to modern convenience in one way – the stainless steel inserts often come from recycled washing machines. The Whitefish is only hours from Lake Michigan. Three or four steaks are cut from each fish, and fileted by machine.
Potatoes go in almost whole. The ends are cut to allow the salt water to flavor the whole potato. Next the fish boil master adds the onions. And then he adds the whitefish last.
He adds a huge scoop of salt. This is salt water cooking!
And then the wait is on. All the diners circle around the cooking area, all with cameras in hand. The littler kids squeeze up front for a good view. These little guys, brothers who wer 5 and 2, kept chanting. “Hurry up! Hurry up!” Ten minutes is a long time to wait when you’re a little kid (or an adult for that matter) and you’re waiting not only for dinner, but for the fish boil master to yell “boil over!”
The fish boil master regulates the fire and the cooking temperatures by kicking away logs. Logs standing on end keep the fire burning intensely. Logs kicked to the side allows heat to escape and reduces the heat.
When the fish and accompaniments are fully cooked, kerosene is added to the flames. This cause a flash of fire, the water boils over the pot, and the excess oils from the fish wash over the pot.
The fish pot is then lifted by two men with long poles, and delivered to the kitchen where dinner is quickly put on plates and served. The clean plate award is a slice of cherry pie. That’s another Door County tradition, courtesy of the many orchards on Door County. Its geographic position, a peninsula stretching into the waters of Lake Michigan, keeps the county more temperate than the rest of Wisconsin, so apple and cherry orchards are plentiful.
Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. She took this series of photos while on a weekend trip to Door County this summer. Bo has been to many a fish boil, beginning with her first one when she was ten years old. She remembers taking a single photograph of a fish boil with her Brownie camera, and wishes she still had a few photos from her earliest attempts.
Visit Bo’s website and daily photoblog for more photos and current information.
“Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny.”
– The Findhorn Community
“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”
– Henry David Thoreau
“What dreadful hot weather we have!
It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”
~ Jane Austen
“Flowers have a mysterious and subtle influence upon the feelings, not unlike some strains of music.
They relax the tenseness of the mind. They dissolve its vigor.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher
I have found through years of practice, that people garden in order to make something grow; to interact with nature; to share, to find sanctuary, to heal, to honor the earth, to leave a mark. Through gardening, we feel whole as we make our personal work of art upon the land. ~ Julie Moir Messervy
“The mere thought of walking outdoors on a brilliant golden-blue day causes fire-works of delight to go off in most people’s psyche. It gives one an instant feeling of happiness and that is meditation! We are not only in touch, at that moment, with the physical splendor of nature, but also with the beauty of merging our own spiritual nature with it.” – Karen Zebroff
These photographs were taken at the Garden Store at the New York Botanical Gardens.
And a note of explanation regarding the last photo – this garden path was made of round ceramic stones, in varying sizes but most about an inch and a half in diameter. The Garden Store sold these small ceramic stones to benefit the Botanical Gardens.
The stones have possibly the most interesting history of any garden stone I have ever heard – each stone was handmade in the early 1900s as a functional object in a clothing factory. What could have been their use?
The stones were put in with newly manufactured fabric and washed. Stone washing! It “gentled” the fabric and made it ready for use.
And yes, I absolutely had to buy a couple of dozen ceramic stones to place in odd spots in my garden – if only for the history they hold. At 4 for a dollar, it was money well spent. I have much enjoyed this tiny addition to my garden! Simple joys!
Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.
At a different site — http://seededearth.com/blog2
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Bryant Park is located on the same block as the New York Public Library in Manhattan. It has a lot of diversity for its size, sporting several cafes and eating spots, a football field-sized lawn where weekly movies are shown during the summer, sculptures of famous New Yorkers, a carousel, and hundreds of chairs, tables, and benches for sitting and relaxing.
Gertrude Stein, sitting cross-legged rather like a Buddha, is one of 5 statues in Bryant Park. It’s prominently located on the terrace, on the park side of the New York Public Library. The cast was done by Jo Davidson in 1923, long before Stein had become famous as a literary figure and supporter, and was installed in the park in 1992. Amazing to me, this was the first public statue of an American woman placed in the whole of New York City, and that was done only 17 years ago.
I walked to the New York Public Library, one of 150 buildings on the favorites list of the American Institute of Architects, but it is undergoing extensive renovation and was cloaked in plastic and canvas. Not able to see except for the pair of lion statues at the massive front entrance.
So I wandered around Bryant Park and finally found a rocking chair–yes, a rocker, solid wood, comfy, on a patio in the park–where I spent an hour or two observing all the activity, writing in my journal, and dozing a bit. As I was leaving the park, I photographed this city and cloud reflection on the building on 42nd Street and 6th Avenue — the merging of city and nature.
According to an informational sign in the park on the architecture on the square, this is the Home Box Office Building designed in 1985 by Kohn Pedersen Fox.