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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.

Thoreau @ 200

Prairie Notes #127
July 1, 2017

01) Thoreau @ 200
02) Field Report - June
03) Friends in High Places
04) Pavilion Update
05) FW City Council Honors FOTHNA
06) Thoreau for Kids
07) Summer Solstice Sunsets
08) Trout Lilies for Sale
09) Prairie Proverb

01) Thoreau @ 200

With Henry David Thoreau's 200th birthday approaching on July 12, it's important, maybe vitally so, to remember his enormous influence on how we view the natural world and its survival in the early 21st century. His writings on nature and philosophy and have kept the flame of, observing, appreciating and protecting our natural heritage, burning in the minds, hearts and actions of millions of people. 

His words and insights have inspired a remarkable range of people from, Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr., virtually every nature writer from Ed Abbey to Bill McKibben and poets from, Mary Oliver to Bill Holm. (You can count Friends of Tandy Hills, in that group, as well.) According to Thoreau scholar, Ken Kifer,

"Thoreau's careful observations and devastating conclusions have rippled across time...influencing the national parks system, the creation of India, the civil rights and environmental movements and the wilderness movement.

Personally, Thoreau helped me learn the difference between "looking" vs. "seeing" and "hearing" vs. "listening", in the natural world. (See Prairie Notes #54, Beyond the Range of Sight) This line from his 1841 poem, "Inspiration", was a watershed moment in sharpening my nature observation awareness: 

"I hear beyond the range of sound,
I see beyond the range of sight,
New earths and skies and seas around,
And in my day the sun doth pale his light."

The last thing he wrote in his journal before he died in 1862 was,

"All this is perfectly distinct to the observant eye, and yet could easliy pass unnoticed by most."

Not unlike Henry Thoreau, who watched with disdain as virgin forests near Concord were clearcut, when slavery was the norm and the Civil War loomed, we, too, live in dark and turulent times. The entire natural world is at risk from amoral elected officials who have zero connection to the natural world and hold the keys to our government. Decades of environmental progress is threatened by their actions and inactions. 

Independence Day may be a good time to revisit Waden, Civil Disobedience and especially the Journals of HDT, to fortify and inspire for the battles for sacred places that lie ahead. Scroll down to see more about Thoreau.

Henry Don Young 

A page from, Minute Biographies, Nisenson & Parker, 1931

02) Field Report - June

More than 8.5 inches of rain in June helped revive the fading wildflowers and pushed the grasses up a few inches. (The average monthly rainfall for June is about 3.5 inches.) As of June 29, the Bluebells are amazing. Here's a few pics of what I observed in the month of June.

Who doesn't like Texas Bluebells on a summer day?

Texas Bluebells have adopted Barbara's Button Hill.

Common but beautiful. Saw-leaf Daisy are in their prime.

False Gaura echoing the nearby, Tandy radio tower.

Slender Pennyroyal is still blooming and fragrant in late June.

White variation of Silverleaf Nighshade.

Dogweed is a common sight across the Tandy Hills in June.

Common is beautiful. Prairie Verbena lights up the summer prairie.

Bluets delight the eye like thousadns of white diamonds in the meadow.

Pastoral, grass-covered hills are awaiting your picnic.

A Milkweed seed acheiving its highest potential.

03) Friends in High Places

Friends of Tandy Hills are good to have. We need volunteers to manage this place. Even better, is when those volunteers happen to be botanists. That's what happened Sunday, June 25, when REAL botanists from the Botanical Society of America, visited Tandy Hills for a 3 hour work day. The group was in town for their annual convention and wanted to help out. We gladly accomodated the 25 enthusiastic botanists from all over the USA who helped us clear the space near the trailhead formerly known as the Privet Room. Longtime visitors to Tandy HIlls will be astonished by the transformation. Thanks to BRIT, Brooke Byerly and team leader, Joseph Lippert for organizing the event and to Debora Young and Anne Alderfer for representing FOTHNA.

Special t-shirts were printed for the Tandy Hills work day.

The Privet Room is gone, replaced by a shaded canopy of native trees.

Volunteer botanists from across the USA participated.

04) Pavilion Update

On June 2, a large and enthusiastic crowd attended the opening reception of the Tandy Hills Natural Area Pavilion Design Exhibition. Representatives from Dennehy Architects, winner of the competition were there to enlighten attendees with thier design philosophy. There was lots of stimulating dialogue about architecture and how the winning design fits in at Tandy Hills. Thanks to Jenny Conn of FW Arts Council and Alesha Niedziela and Norman Ward of AIA-FW for thier hard work in mounting the exhibition.

Also in June, FOTHNA board members met with CIty of FW Park & Rec staff, AIA-FW reps and architects to discuss next steps in getting the pavilion built.

Architecture was on the lips of reception attendees.

Paul Dennehy & Dennis Chiessa of Dennehy Architects describing their pavilion vision to reception visitors.

Pavilion competition winner model by Dennehy Architects.

Imagine walking from the street to the Tandy Hills trailhead through this architectural corridor.

Stakeholders without a map plotting the way forward to a built pavilion.

05) FW City Council Honors FOTHNA

Recognizing the work of Friends of Tandy Hills volunteers in securing a Lone Star Lagacy Park award for Tandy Hills, FW City Council honored FOTHNA on June 13. In his introductory comments, Fort Worth PARD Director, Richard Zavala, said that designation like this happen because of the people. In thanking FOTHNA, Mayor Pro-tem, Dennis Shingleton, commented,

"I can't think of anything that signifies quality of life in Fort Worth more than our parks."

In related news, Greensource DFW has just published a nice encapsulation of the Lone Star Legacy Park honor that Tandy Hills received back in March. Check out the report by, Marshall HInsley

06) Thoreau for Kids

Don't forget the kids! A very cool book on Thoreau has been recently published. It combines age-appropriate history and facts with 21 activities to help your kid become the nature mystic they were born to be. Henry David Thoreau for Kids, is available at the usual places.

07) Summer Solstice Sunsets

The days just before and after the Summer Solstice made for great sunsets. Take a look at how it looked form here.

08) Trout Lilies for Sale

Local artist, Elaine Jary, has a thing for the tiny Trout Lily, one of the iconic wildflowers at Tandy Hills. She attended the Trout Lily walk last year and went back on her own to take photos and create a sereis of watercolors that are for sale (at surprisingly affordable prices) at her website. I find them to be marvelous. 

Photo coutesy of, Elaine Jary.

09) Prairie Proverb

"A century and ahalf after its publication,Walden has become such a token of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible."

- American author, John Updike, in his introduction to 2004 Princeton edition of Walden. Photo-illustration by, Maclej Ceglowski, from his blog.

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization. All content by Don Young except where otherwise noted.