Lands that I Love

Late Autumn in the Prairie - Hidden Colors

Hidden Colors in the Prairie © 2012 Bo Mackison

A passion builds inside anyone who spends time on the prairie. ~ D. Showalter

In the winter, I spend my time in the Southwest and often wander the open spaces of the desert. It felt like home, the desert stretching as far as I could see, the first time I stood in the desert’s midst, turning in a circle, looking at the diversity, at the low clumping grasses, the bursts of yellow wildflowers, standing in the thick ground vegetation where I had perhaps expected sandbox sand.

It was a surprise to me. Why would I have such a thrilling connection to this secret land, land many people describe as desolate, and yet I could see nothing but wonder. This was not a land of my desolation.  A land of little water, yes, and of grand schemes for plant conservation, but wherever I looked there were compact surprises of the natural sort.

And now, in this last week of summer, where the touch of autumn rests heavily in the niches of Wisconsin, I notice similarities of the prairie and the desert.

The tallgrass prairie stretches far, blocks my view with its six-foot tall grasses and flower stalks, and I imagine it stretching for miles. Imagine I must, for most of the prairie has been swept clean, readied a century ago by the tractor’s plow, for corn and soybeans.  And now the neighboring land waits for winter covered with a different type of remnant, the sheared rows of cornstalks.

So I keep my eyes focused on the prairie spaces, on the swaying grasses, the sudden stalks of flowers dancing above my head, the prairie flowers twisting, wending their way, forcing their way ever skyward. Grasses and flowers with pioneer names – calico asters, switch grass, prairie cord grass, needle grass, cup-plant, compass plant.

In autumn, these prairie spaces have a certain look, the familiar is so similar to the arid desert grasslands.

Prairie in the autumn. Desert in the winter.

Lands that I love.


Bo Mackison is a photographer and the owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC.  Another day traipsing paths through prairie – her muse for both photography and words.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. I would love to visit that prairie!

  2. Your love for these lands is clear, and beautiful to see.

  3. I love your observations and musings on the prairie and desert.

  4. How I love these musings of yours, Bo. Interestingly, this past spring I traveled back to Alabama and saw sweeping blue-green fields of winter wheat flowing, undulating in the strong spring winds and compared them in my mind to waves on the ocean. Great minds… I LOVE this photo of the prairie grasses – amazing colors, and such depth – my eye goes deeper and deeper every time I look at it. XO

  5. This grass looks like little bluestem: is that what you take it to be?

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