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Prairie Notes are monthly photo/journal observations from Tandy Hills Natural Area by Founder/Director, Don Young. They include field reports, flora and fauna sightings, and more, mixed with a scoop of dry humor and a bit of philosophy. They are available free to all who get on the FOTHNA email list.

Multum in Parvo

Prairie Notes: #53
May 1, 2011

1) Multum in Parvo
2) Major Announcement
3) Field Report
4) Wildflowers of the Moment
5) Wildflower Extravaganza w/ Jim Varnum
6) Prairie Fest Notes
7) Tandy Hills For Sale. Again.
8) Prairie Proverb

1) Multum in Parvo

I've been reading a 1948 biography of Henry David Thoreau by esteemed naturalist, Joseph Wood Krutch. Very insightful analysis, as you might expect, from Krutch. I learned a new Latin phrase from the book that reminded me of Tandy Hills Natural Area.

"Multum in parvo." Translated, it means, much in little or, a great deal in a small space. In the case of Thoreau, it refers to his ability to "maximize the minimum" in his writings and, indeed, in his daily life. Here's a short example of this from his Journal entry, 1856:

"I wish to to live ever as to derive my satisfactions from the commonest events, everyday phenomena, so that, what my senses hourly perceive... may inspire me, and I may dream of no heaven but that which lies about me."

Multum in parvo is a perfectly apt phrase to describe Tandy Hills Natural Area, especially this time of year. There is enough energy and diversity crammed into these 160 acres to fill the journals of a dozen "Thoreau's." Even in a relatively dry year, the wildflowers are spectacular and new grass blades have reliably emerged from their deep roots.

If, on some days, you feel the world spinning a little too fast, find yourself feeling disconnected from nature, your senses dulled from digital devices, take Henry's advice. Head out to THNA and allow the commonest events that unfold there to transport you back to Earth.


Tandy Hills has enough energy and diversity in a square yard to inspire a dozen Thoreau's.

2) Major Announcement

Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area is pleased to announce our Sponsorship of field trips to Tandy Hills in collaboration with FWISD. The first field trips, known as a Field Investigations, will take place on May 11 and May 12. More than 140 Meadowbrook Elementary School 4th graders will participate in this pilot program.

The kids will be divided into small groups and escorted by their teachers to various locations at Tandy Hills where Master Naturalist volunteers, organized by Suzanne Tuttle, will lead them in various studies including, science, creative writing, math and art. The kids will spend the entire school day at the park.

A Field Journal has been prepared by FWISD Exploratory Learning Investigations Specialist, Kathy Cash, who is also directing the project. Without the enthusiasm and commitment of Kathy this project would likely have been relegated to a filing cabinet. Instead, we are working together to make sure these kids know about and appreciate the wonders of THNA.

FOTHNA member and supporter, Jim Marshall, proposed this farsighted idea to the FOTHNA board last year arguing that it would help expand our Mission of increasing awareness of THNA. We reached out to Suzanne Tuttle, who introduced Debora and I to Kathy Cash whom we met with last February. Within weeks, the project was underway and approved by the FWISD.

As Sponsor, FOTHNA has agreed to pay most of the cost associated with the field trips including, bus rides to and from the park, syllabus/journal printing costs and portable restrooms. Our goal is to expand this project to include all school kids in Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

This is a small price to pay for getting the attention of 140 young minds and hearts who may one day in the future determine the fate of places like Tandy Hills.

3) Field Report

-Is it just me or was April the windiest month ever? The answer, my friend, is that wind was definitely the defining weather phenomena of the month. I vaguely recall a few thunder-lighting storms that helped green up the prairie but, wind is what I remember most. It blew all day and it blew all night. It blew up a storm at Prairie Fest. As I type this on April 29 it's still gusting and whistling through the Tandy Hills tower.

-All the usual suspects are blooming now at Tandy Hills, and new ones are coming online every week. Due to my Prairie Fest responsibilities I did not get to document as many of their arrivals as I would have liked. But a few sights caught my eye, including a stunning, albino or, white variation, Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium), the first I have seen. (See pic in #4 below) Read about and see more uncommon albino's at Tandy Hills, HERE.

-File this under: Thanks, I needed that. Just days before Prairie Fest when pressure was mounting and stress was rising I received a short and sweet email from PF Wildflower Tour coordinator, Suzanne Tuttle. During a training session for the tours with Master Naturalists, Suzanne and company spotted a Monarch caterpillar on one of the many Milkweed plants that grow at Tandy Hills. Milkweed is their preferred diet. Such a sight is a symbol of hope for Monarchs and THNA.

Monarch cat on a Antelope Horns Milkweed plant. Photo by Troy Mullens.

4) Wildflowers of the Moment

April and May are to Tandy Hills wildflowers what the Big Bang is to the cosmos. Here are a few examples of what's currently blooming in my corner of Spaceship Earth:

Pink is one of the three basic flavors of Wine Cup at THNA.

Tis the season for Purple Coneflower at THNA.

Green Milkweed is one of the three varieties found at THNA.

Silverleaf Nightshade is usually purple at THNA. This uncommon white variation leaped into my camera.

Faded blossoms of Two-Leaf Senna reflect a late April sunset.

5) Wildflower Extravaganza with Jim Varnum

"Do you like wildflowers? To observe, to photograph, to simply enjoy? Would you like to see 50 species in one location with practically no walking?" So asks Master Naturalist and Wildflower Guru, Jim Varnum, who will usher in the first annual Wildflower Extravaganza at Tandy Hills on, Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. - Noon.

Jim and many other experts agree that, the hilltops along View Street contain perhaps the most species of native wildflowers in north Texas. Bring your camera, journal and wildflower books. Jim will answer your questions and entertain you with his funny little stories and easy-going manner. Come when you wish and stay as long as you like. Park on the east end of View Street near the intersection of Lewis Ave.

Jim Varnum (r) will be the ringmaster at Wildflower Extravaganza on May 14 at THNA.

6) Prairie Fest Notes

-By all reports, Prairie Fest 6 was a success. We had, by far, the most Exhibitors and the largest crowd, ever. More than 300 people took the official Wildflower Tour and learned about FOTHNA initiatives. By these measures, our primary goal of promoting awareness of Tandy Hills was met. But we want to hear from you. Please take a couple of minutes and share with us any comments or suggestions you may have, HERE.

-Prairie Circle, a temporary, site-specific sculpture created specifically for Prairie Fest by artist, Elaine Taylor, is still standing at Tandy Hills. The artwork speaks for itself, but with prompting, Elaine describes her vision for the piece as symbolically, "encircling and protecting the prairie." The recycled tree limbs that define the 40' circle are a reference to the restoration efforts of our annual Brush Bash.

-Jane Fazi still has a few of the VERY limited edition, May 2011 - May 2012 calendars she created for Prairie Fest. These oversize calendars feature photographs taken by yours truly at Tandy Hills. A portion of sales goes to FOTHNA. They will make a nice Summer Solstice gift for someone you love. Go HERE for details.

-File this under: The Kindness of Strangers. In the swirling chaos of Prairie Fest, I was approached by a very nice woman whom I did not recognize who handed me a slightly worn copy of National Geographic magazine from October 1993. Inside was a wonderful essay by, Douglas Chadwick, titled, The American Prairie: Roots of the Sky. It's not available online but it's worth seeking out a hard copy. The photos by Jim Brandenburg, are stunning.

-Prairie Fest/FOTHNA merchandise sales help spread the word and aid our cause. T-shirts, tote-bags, caps, bandanas and books are available for purchase on the website. Your purchase helps us pay for FWISD field trips. Buy stuff, HERE.

-In Praise of Sponsors! Despite another iffy year for the economy, Prairie Fest exceeded our Sponsorship goal in 2011. More than 40 businesses, churches, organizations and individuals saw Prairie Fest and FOTHNA as worthy of their cash or reciprocal donations. We salute you all!

-In Praise of Exhibitors! We blasted the previous record for number of booths in 2011. More than 135 Exhibitors bravely set up their wares on the windy hill. We were still signing them up the night before the fest. The diversity was mind-boggling. Check 'em out, HERE.

-In Praise of Volunteers: The success of Prairie Fest rest on the wide shoulders of more than 200 volunteers. These dedicated folks worked extremely hard to get the fest off the ground in a year when it almost didn't happen. The PF Committee did a heckuva job under difficult circumstances. My hat is off to Anne Aldefer, Roger Bunch, Catherine Clyde, Tonya Ferguson, Gigi Goesling, Eric Griffey, Dawn Hancock, Phil Hennen, Tim Hall, Jim Marshall, Jen Schultes, Jan Upchurch, and Debora Young, all of whom went beyond the call of duty.

A record-size crowd attended the 6th annual Prairie Fest.

Elaine Taylor and crew begin work on Prairie Circle at THNA.

Completed Prairie Circle. Photo by Scott Ausburn.

We got you covered with our "stuff."

7) Tandy Hills For Sale. Again.

Seventeen talented artists participated in the 2011 Prairie Fest Plein Air Paint-out and auction. Unfortunately, time ran out before all the artworks could be auctioned. Thety are now being offered for sale at the Opening Bid price. What a deal!

View the paintings HERE. This is a first come first served sale. All sales are shared between the artists and FOTHNA.

Contact Don Young for details on payment and pick up.

Mesquite Tree, by Prairie fest Plein air artist, Betty King.

8) Prairie Proverb

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."

Henry David Thoreau