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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.

Time Passes Slowly

Prairie Notes #99
March 1, 2015

01) Time Passes Slowly
02) Field Report - February
03 Brush Bash Report
04) Trout Lily Time
05) Prairie Fest News Update
06) Post a Comment
07) Praire Proverb

01) Time Passes Slowly

Time passes slowly out here on the prairie. 
We climb up the hills to the top where it's airy. 
Catch the wild breeze as the tall grasses sing. 
Time passes slowly when you're waiting for spring. 

Apologies to Bobby Dylan for messing with his pretty song. It's ringing in my head today as snow covers the Tandy hills and valleys and spring seems a million days away. In truth, the Spring Equinox arrives in only 3 weeks. And, as you'll see in the Field Report below, the harbingers of spring have already emerged.

The full and vast diversity of Tandy Hills is, in fact, silently forming right under this shallow limestone soil and will soon color the hills like few other places in Texas. So like Dylan sings, "Ain't no reason to go anywhere." Spring is right here under these crunchy snowflakes.

That reminds me that, March not January begins the New Year for nature mystics. That's right. Before Julius Caesar came along, March was the first month on the calendar. But that was a different sort of calendar. Joseph Wood Krutch called it, the Calendar of the Soul. Read my post from 2011 on this subject in Prairie Notes #52.

Happy New Year, ya'll!

Come April, this chilly scene of winter will transfrom into...

...the Best Place to See Wildflowers in the Metroplex.

02) Field Report - February

Snow on the prairie of a different color drove us all indoors in the waning days of February. But before it did, we enjoyed decent, sometimes spring-like weather long enough for Brush Bash and to see the various harbingers of spring poke through the prairie dirt. That miracle of creation bursting forth in so many different ways is never less than astonishing to this nature mystic.

Here's some pics of what I observed during the herky-jerky month of February 2015.

What could have made these snow tracks?

They were all over the place at Tandy Hills.

This is the progenitor of the snow track makers.

One of the earliest spring sprouts is the sturdy False Gaura which can grow up to 12' tall at Tandy Hills.

The lovely Ground Plum also known as Lotus Milk-Vetch is another harbinger of spring.

Big Root Cymopterus grows low to the ground and has a vigorous filigreed leaf pattern and is now blooming.

A Coelenterate (coral tip) from the Cretaceous period turned up at Tandy Hills.

Learn more about this and other fossils at the Fossil Lady website.

The remains of Purple Coneflower stems and Little Bluestem grass still adorn the winter prairie.

03) Brush Bash Report

Wow! The 7th annual Brush Bash was one for the record book. Two acres of Tandy Hills prairie were liberated from privet and other invasive woody species. Best news of all, the City has committed to 3 more Brush Bashes in 2015. Wow!

By the numbers:
  • 2+ acres cleared near main trail
  • 6 full days of brush cutting by PACS crew
  • 362 cubic yards of brush removed
  • 315 documented volunteer hours (many more undocumented)
  • 50+ volunteers participated on event day
  • 13 lbs. of native grass and wildflower seed distributed
  • 3 more Brush Bash events in 2015
The historic event was also a beautiful example of collaboration and partnership between the following.
City of Fort Worth
Parks & Community Services Dept. (PACS)
Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge
Native Prairies Association of Texas (FW)
Boy Scout Troop 12
Friends of Tandy Hills volunteers
Special thanks to Jerry McDowell, Suzanne Tuttle, Michelle Villafranca, Bobby Muriel and Billy Roden with PACS and to John Tandy, Anne Alderfer and Debora Young with FOTHNA.
A former privet patch. Significant trees were retained.
City crews stayed busy loading 28 truckloads of brush.
The cleared area being re-seeded with native grass and wildflower seed.

04) Trout Lily Time

It's Trout Lily time again at Tandy Hills Natural Area. That means, one of our rarest wildflowers is blooming for a limited time. The harbinger of Spring grows under trees in select areas of the park. It's tiny blooms are a joy to behold.

Join Master Naturalists and Trout Lily experts, Jim Varnum and Sam Kieschnick, on March 1, for a walking tour. Learn more at our website.

NOTE: At press time it appears the hike will be canceled due to inclement weather. If it is, I urge you to come to Tandy Hills as soon as the weather clears to see these wonders up close. They won't be blooming much longer.

Trout Lily plants are having a better than expected year.

For a limited time only.

05) Prairie Fest News Update

T-minus 55 days until Prairie Fest. It's shaping up nicely with the help of a dedicated staff of volunteers. Prairie Fest Science Hike Program Director, Heather Foote sent the following note about the various activities she is leading this year:

Home Sweet Home at Prairie Fest 2015

Celebrate community on the Home Sweet Home Hike at Prairie Fest.  The new one hour hike tours three habitats at Tandy Hills.  Hikes run from 11 am - 4pm.  Participants leave with a tree ring name tag, a Tandy Hills bookmark and a Passport Game Book.  Preregister for this free hike here.

Prairie Fest 2015 Passport Game for all ages!
Many thanks to YMCA Camp Carter for donating a free week of overnight summer camp as the grand prize for the Prairie Passengers Passport Game.  A winning entry will be drawn at sunset.  For game details, see Prairie
A call for Prairie Fest volunteers:
Prairie Fest volunteers make the fest possible!  Training for hike leaders and other volunteers in the Prairie Fest nature & science zone will be held on Sunday, April 12 or April 19 from 2 - 4 pm at Tandy Hills.  Please RSVP by registering for a training date here.  Master Naturalists receive 2 hours credit. 

06) Post a Comment

Did you know that you can now Post a Comment on this newsletter? (See bottom of page) We welcome your comments.

07) Prairie Proverb

The moonlight reflects from the window
Where the snowflakes, they cover the sand
Come out tonight, ev'rything will be tight
Winterlude, this dude thinks you're grand

Winterlude, by Bob Dylan, from his 1970 album, New Morning

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.