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Springing Into Fall

Prairie Notes:
December 1, 2010

1) Field Report
2) Prairie Fest: By hook or by crook
3) Wildflower of the Moment
4) Ladies' Tresses Orchids
5) Critter Report

1) Field Report
A brief period of chilly weather on November 1st made it finally feel like Autumn at our little urban oasis. Multitudes of leaves finally fell but Spring-like temps soon returned. The number of blooming plants that normally mature in the Spring was amazing. Meanwhile, Possumhaw, Aromatic Sumac, Mexican Plum and a few others brightened up the subdued landscape with their Fall colors setting off the Autumn grass that continues to be the Main Event.

Possumhaw berries are a bright spot on the Tandy Hills prairie.

Eye-catching fall foliage of Mexican Plum.

It's the "hills" that make Tandy Hills so remarkable. As Winter approaches, the hills are more noticeable.

2) Prairie Fest: By hook or by crook
The November 23rd edition of Fort Worth Weekly reported on the growing pains of Fort Worth Prairie Fest. You can read the report by Jeff Prince here. Volunteers are urgently needed. Our Number 1 need is for a Volunteer Coordinator to recruit, train and supervise event day volunteers. Please let us know ASAP if you will take this critical responsibility.

Against all odds and by hook or by crook, Prairie Fest 6 will happen on April 23, 2011. Exhibitors and Sponsors, get ready. You will be hearing from The Best Outdoor Cultural Event in Tarrant County very soon. Watch a little video snapshot of the 2010 fest here.

3) Wildflower of the Moment
A single Purple Paintbrush in full bloom on November 7th? How rare can that be? It made a nice contrast with the Autumn leaves in the background.

Purple Paintbrush fooled by Mother Nature.

4) Ladies Tresses Orchids
The amazing and wonderfully aromatic Ladies Tresses Orchids of THNA have just finished blooming. Are they Nodding Ladies Tresses or Great Plains Ladies Tresses or both? Experts disagree. Either way, the similar-looking species are one of the many Fall pleasures at THNA worth celebrating.

Trout Lily and Ladies Tresses expert, Jim Varnum, took a day-trip to THNA in November. He documented his trip in the November edition of Jim's This and That. Check it out here.

5) Critter Report
On the evening of November 28, I witnessed a Great Horned Owl with a 4'+ wingspan descend into the darkening twilight of Tandy Hills Natural Area. The thrill of seeing such a magnificent creature in its natural habitat reminded me once again of the wise words of poet, Mary Oliver:

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"