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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.

'Tis the Season

Prairie Notes: #76
April 1, 2013

1) 'Tis the Season
2) How "Green" is Prairie Fest?
3) Just Because...
4) Victory Lap for the Winner
5) Wildflower(s) of the Moment
6) More Winners
7) A Record Catch
8) Prairie Poem

1) 'Tis the Season

Spring at Tandy Hills Natural Area is running a bit behind schedule this year. This time last year the prime wildflower areas were nicely sprinkled with yellows, purples, blues and whites. As of March 31, 2013, however, a quick glance still looks a lot like January.

Mother Nature has teased us before, doing things according to her own schedule. "Spring will happen when it happens," she insists. Yet as we look skyward expectantly for more Spring rain, all signs on the ground look promising. Spring wildflowers are coming soon.

Here at Prairie Fest HQ, it's our busy season and we have a more precise schedule. For the past few months an energetic team of some of the busiest people in north Texas have been doubly busy. They have volunteered countless hours attending to the myriad of details required to launch the greenest out-of-doors festival in Texas. (Some Texas brags are true, dadgummit!)

We have one eye on Mother Nature, expecting her palette of wildflower jewels to be shining brightly when the 8th annual Prairie Fest blooms for its one day a year. Check out the exciting entertainment schedule, prairie/wildflower hikes and other Impromptu Prairie activities on our website. See you on the prairie April 27, 2013!


2) How "Green" is Prairie Fest?

Prairie Fest stages have been powered by the Sun since 2007 thanks to Dan Lepinski of Exeltech Solar Products and his Solar Shuttle.

According to Dan, "Prairie Fest likely has the smallest footprint of any event in the Metroplex and perhaps Texas, preventing the release of more than a ton of CO2."

Not only that, Prairie Fest is the ONLY major Metroplex festival independent of a city government or corporation. We are an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that depends on your donations for our conservation and environmental education initiatives at Tandy Hills.

Dan has backup from Mike Renner of North Texas Renewable Energy Group making our stage power the cleanest and greenest in Texas. Come see and hear for yourself on April 27.

Since 2007

Clean, green power from the Sun. What a concept!

Solar Shuttle

3) Just Because...

Just because Prairie Fest is independently produced doesn't mean we don't rely on sponsors. But we are picky. You won't find XYZ Dirty Energy or Joe Blows Greenwashing Corporation on our sponsor list. We are very proud of and grateful to our sponsors for their support this year in helping make Prairie Fest possible.

Bluestem Nursery; Exeltech Solar Products; Edible Dallas & Fort Worth; Buyers Barricades; North Texas Renewable Energy Group; Unity Church of Fort Worth; New Belgium Brewing; Redenta's Garden; Marshall Grain; ting-ting design; Earthworks; Dark Sky Initiative; Daylight Rangers; Rahr & Sons Brewing; Elizabeth Anna's Old World Garden; Fort Worth Audubon Society; Green Mountain Energy; Native Prairies Association of Texas; Whole Foods Market; Fort Worth Mortgage Bankers Association; City of Fort Worth; Blue Wind Partners; Texas Commission on the Arts; Cummer-Moyers Financial Services; Bicycles Inc.; Prairie Keepers; Greenling Dallas/FW; Texas Wesleyan University; MAX; Texas Honeybee Guild; West Meadowbrook Neighborhood Association; North Central Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas; Saint Arnold Brewing; Commodity Recycling Solutions; More Puffcorn Please; Native American Seed...and the following individual donors:

Jane Rector; Heather & Mike Foote; Mary Kay & Greg Hughes; Jim Marshall; Stephen B. Marcom; Dr. George W. & Karlee Marcom; Stan & Deborah Toole Waller; Paul Rodman; Don C. Wheeler; Mack Waller; Jim Bradbury; John Lewis Tandy; Dr. Libby Gilmore.

Find them all here

4) Victory Lap for the Winner

On the evening of the Spring Equinox, Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area, was awarded the Green Source DFW Environmental Leadership Award for Grass Roots Non-Profit Organization. This high honor says a lot about how far FOTHNA has come in eight years. The award represents a lot of hard work, dedication and passion by many individuals to help enhance the lives of north Texans through their connection with the natural world.

Read a post-event Press Release from the Memnosyne Institute here

Don & Debora Young accepted the award on behalf of FOTHNA.

5) Wildflower(s) of the Moment

The vast carpets of Spring wildflowers typical to Tandy Hills are yet to come. But there are a few isolated examples of several species now blooming. See below, a few of them observed in late March.

Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum) another harbinger of Spring

Purple Paintbrush (Castilleja purpurea) rising from the barren prairie

Rabbit Tobacco (Diaperia prolifera)

Sweetly fragrant, Texas Blue Star (Amasonia ciliata var. texana). Photo by Stan Waller

Compass Plant leaves (Sylphium laciniatum) sprouting in late March.

6) More Winners

On March 22, Kids on the Prairie Director, Anne Aldefer, along with Debora and Don Young presented awards to students at Meadowbrook Elementary School for Best Poetry and Best Artwork from last Falls field trip to Tandy Hills. (We had no Best Essay entries this time.)

More than 80 fourth grade students participated in a quick Q&A to test their recall from the field trip. They applauded enthusiastically for the contest winners.

Winners received an organic cotton FOTHNA T-shirt and a shoe/bike light. Honorable mentions received an organic cotton FOTHNA bandana.

And the winners are:

1st Place Poem - Angelica Terrones, (Ms Durkey)
Honorable Mention Poem - Aurora Hernandez, (Ms. Dean)
Honorable Mention Poem - Angela Hernandez, (Ms. Durkey)

1st Place Art - Richard A. Estrada, (Ms. Davis)
Honorable Mention Art: - Angel Hinajoza, (Ms. Davis)
Honorable Mention Art - Caitlin Zaturain, (Ms. Durkey)

Read more and view photo gallery at the FWISD website, HERE

Pop quiz on prairie knowledge for KOP grads at Meadowbrook Elementary School.

7) A Record Catch

There were more people looking for blooming Trout Lilies at Tandy Hills on March 3 than there were blooming Trout Lilies. A record, 47 people attended the Trout Lily Walk. The elusive little flower attracts quite a crowd. Thanks to Jim Varnum and Sam Kieschnick for leading the tours. See photos HERE.

8) Prairie Poem

"It happened I couldn't find in all my books
more than a picture and a few words concerning
the trout lily,

so I shut my eyes.
And let the darkness come in
and roll me back.
The old creek

began to sing in my ears
as it rolled along, like the hair of spring,
and the young girl I used to be
heard it also,

as she came swinging into the woods,
truant from everything as usual
except the clear globe of the day, and its
beautiful details.

Then she stopped
where the trout lilies of the year
had sprung from the ground
with their spotted bodies
and their six-antlered bright faces,
and their many red tongues.

If she spoke to them, I don't remember what she said,
and if they kindly answered, it's a gift that can't be broken
by giving it away.
All I know is, there was a light that lingered, for hours,
under her eyelids - that made a difference
when she went back to a difficult house, at the end of the day."

- Trout Lilies, a poem by Mary Oliver (from her book, Why I Wake Early, 2004)

Prairie Notes© is the official newsletter of Friends of Tandy Hills Natural Area. All photographs by Don Young except where otherwise noted.