Thursday, June 23, 2011

Photos at Sac Prairie

AN EXCERPT from A Summer Journey in the West, 1841, by Eliza R. Steele:
July 7th.—I fell asleep, and when I was awakened at dawn this morning, by my companion, that I might not lose the scene, I started with surprise and delight. I was in the midst of a 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. Acres of wild flowers of every hue glowed around me, and the sun arising from the earth where it touched the horizon, was 'kissing with golden face the meadows green.'* What a new and wonderous world of beauty! What a magnificent sight! Those glorious ranks of flowers! Oh that you could have 'one glance at their array!' * How shall I convey to you an idea of a prairie. I despair, for never yet hath pen brought the scene before my mind. Imagine yourself in the centre of an immense circle of velvet herbage, the sky for its boundary upon every side; the whole clothed with a radiant efflorescence of every brilliant hue. We rode thus through a perfect wilderness of sweets, sending forth perfume, and animated with myriads of glittering birds and butterflies :—
"A populous solitude of bees and birds,
And fairy formed, and many colored things." *
It was, in fact, a vast garden, over whose perfumed paths, covered with soil as hard as gravel, our carriage rolled through the whole of that summer day. You will scarcely credit the profusion of flowers upon these praries. We passed whole acres of blossoms all bearing one hue, as purple, perhaps, or masses of yellow or rose; and then again a carpet of every color intermixed, or narrow bands, as if a rainbow had fallen upon the verdant slopes. When the sun flooded this Mosaic floor with light, and the summer breeze stirred among their leaves, the irredescent glow was beautiful and wonderous beyond any thing I had ever conceived. I think this must have been the place where Armida planted her garden, for she surely could not have chosen a fairer spot. Here are
'Gorgeous flowrets in the sun light shining,
Blossoms flaunting in the eye of day;
Tremulous leaves, with soft and silver lining
Buds that open only to decay.' *
The gentle undulating surface of these prairies, prevent sameness, and add variety to its lights and shades. Occasionally, when a swell is rather higher than the rest, it gives you an extended view over the country and you may mark a dark green waving line of trees near the distant horizon, which are shading some gentle stream from the sun's absorbing rays, and thus, 'Betraying the secret of their silent course.' * Oak openings also occur, green groves, arranged with the regularity of art, making shady, alleys, for the heated traveller. What a tender benevolent Father have we, to form for us so bright a world! How filled with glory and beauty must that mind have been, who conceived so much loveliness! If for his erring children he has created so fair a dwelling place, how well adorned with every goodly show, must be the celestial home reserved for his obedient people. Eye hath not seen it—ear hath not heard it—nor can it enter into our hearts to conceive it. *
Wondrous truths, and manifold as wondrous,
God hath written in those stars above—
But not less in the bright flowrets under us,
Stands the revelation of his love. *
The following photos were taken at Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri:

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - orange flowers with butterfly

In French, the word prairie means meadow, and it was in this sense that the grasslands of the American mid-west were originally named by the colonial settlers. The Sac Prairie shown here is a meadow in the forested and rugged Lincoln Hills, an isolated Ozark-like region otherwise surrounded by flatter grassland.

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - white flowers

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - prairie grasses

The above photos were taken at the Sac Prairie in that park, and the flower below was taken on the hillside above.

Cuivre River State Park, near Troy, Missouri, USA - Black eyed Susan

See also the article Mushrooms and Moss, which has more photos from this day.

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