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September 17, 2012 / Bo Mackison

A Walk through the Prairie


Prairie Rosinweed © 2012 Bo Mackison

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)

Tall Grass Prairie

Little Bluestem in Tallgrass Prairie © 2012 Bo Mackison

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

Autumn Macro

Autumn Macro of Wings and Leaves © 2012 Bo Mackison

. . . 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)

Prairie Rosinweed © 2012 Bo Mackison

Prairie Rosinweed © 2012 Bo Mackison

. . . 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)

Tall Grass Prairie - Seedheads

Achenes and Wings of the Autumn Rosinweed © 2012 Bo Mackison

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)

Eight Foot Tall - Sunflowers in the Tallgrass Prairie

Prairie Cup-Plant © 2012 Bo Mackison

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)

Bluestem Grasses in Tallgrass Prairie

Autumn Macro of Little Bluestem © 2012 Bo Mackison

“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)

Looking Above my Head

Above my Head in the Prairie © 2012 Bo Mackison

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.

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