Weave the Sky. Weave the Words.

The Stars are Singing © 2016 Bo Mackison

Weave the Sky with Stars © 2016 Bo Mackison

Weave the Sky with Stars

maple branches leafing
owls in trees hooting
worms in the earth dancing

prairie grasses rooting
breezes blowing
rivers flowing

words knowing
harmony and ease


Using words and vision and place to shine the light on the contemplative creatives’ journey.


Flower Mandala – Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne's Lace © 2015 Bo Mackison

Queen Anne’s Lace © 2015 Bo Mackison


A Ten-Foot Tall Giant in the Prairie – Pale Indian Plantain

Pale Indian Plantain - Tallgrass Prairie Flower

Pale Indian Plantain – Tallgrass Prairie ©2014 Bo Mackison

Pale Indian Plantain, these tallgrass
prairie flowers rival the prairie’s grasses.
Tall and thick, its stem the deepest red like rhubarb stalks.

Leaves large as a father’s weathered hand hang low on the stem,
rough and ragged. Midway, the leaves are mother-sized hands,
reaching towards the sky and the cluster of
child-sized leaves high on the stalk.
This family of leaves. Orderly.

I stand on the earth, side by side with the Pale Plantain.
It towers above me, statuesque,
hovering over the other prairie flowers,
with an occasional compass plant its only rival.

Its whorl of yellow-green florets gives way to shriveled fibers
signaling another turn of the seasonal cycle.
And late summer drifts towards autumn.

Coneflowers in the Tallgrass Prairie


Purple Coneflowers © 2014 Bo Mackison

“What we do see depends mainly on what we look for. … In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.” ~ John Lubbock

Purple coneflowers. One of my favorites. Since it will bloom from June through September, there are usually pockets of these purple beauties in the prairie during any summer visit. My favorite part is the spiny center, that red rusty cone.

The species is even named for its distinctive center – Echinacea means hedgehog in Greek. Evidently the center disk looked like a hedgehog to the plant naming folks way back when.


Overflowing with Color, There is Nothing Planned or Tidy about the Prairie

July Prairie Flowers

July Prairie Flowers © 2014 Bo Mackison

…In early stages of its growth, the grass is interspersed with little flowers, the violet, the strawberry blossom and others of the most delicate structure. When the grass grows higher, these disappear, and taller flowers displaying more lively colors, take their place; and still later, a series of still higher but less delicately formed flowers appear on the surface.” Captain Basil Hall, 1827

Thimbleweed, milkweed, tickseed, spiderwort, rattlesnake master, yellow coneflower, black-eyed susan, butterfly weed, bergamot, rosinweed, compass plant…

Nothing fancy about most of these names – common household names. Tick, milk, thimble, cone, black eye, compass, butterfly, seed, weed.

But there is everything wild and fancy about the prairie itself.

The tall grass prairies of the eastern range are far different from the short grass prairies of the plains. I seldom think prairie when I drive through the plains in Oklahoma, Kansas, eastern Colorado — I think grasslands when I see shortgrass prairie — hard to find, nearly extinguished, maybe 3% of the grasslands from the 1800s remain.

But those that have survived, mostly in the Flint Hills of Kansas, those are the wide undulating grasses of which the poets once wrote with eloquence, and the land that sent despair through European settlers who spoke of the eerie sounds of the relentless winds.

The eastern range of prairie – the tallgrass prairies which receive the most rainfall of all prairie types – are those I know.

Prairie - Pope Farms Conservatory

Wisconsin Tallgrass Prairie  © 2014 Bo Mackison

Replete with thick stands of grasses and flowers, these prairies are nearly impossible to wade through in July and August when the tallest of both are in full bloom. Matted thick, no space left untouched. It takes perseverance and a disregard for claustrophobia to walk in the midst of tall prairie.

And never mind that you are trampling plants and grasses as you step  if this is a remnant or one of the first restorations from the 1930s/40s and long established — this is one of the very factors that made the prairie what it is, the constant trampling by animals. These are plants that rebound, no matter if the visitor is man, animal, wind, or fire.

These plants continue to thrive — as long as you don’t cultivate the earth itself, and destroy their roots.

Without a complex knowledge of one’s place, and without the faithfulness to one’s place on which such knowledge depends, it is inevitable that the place will be used carelessly and eventually destroyed.  ~ Wendell Berry (1972)

The undisturbed prairies are bountiful. A third to a half of all the plants are forbs, the flower producing plants, and attract vast numbers of pollinators. New species of flowers – perhaps as many as 17 new plants each week from mid July through mid August – come into bloom.

This is the tall grass prairie, and what a wild and precious habitat it is…