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June 6th, 2007

the end of the endless prairie



When anglo people came to north Texas, they found fields upon fields of blackland prairie. They wrote of the profusion of flowers in the Springtime, the undulating grasses, and the endless birdsong.

Being people who wished to tell a different story than the story in the prairie wind, they promptly plowed it up and made it into farmland. Prairie, it turns out, is a delicate thing. Its eco-sytem is complex and fails to take kindly to being plowed into corn. The prairie subsided, and all but disappeared.

A few hayfields remained, as farmers found that prairie grass made better hay than did
the crops they grew. One of those hayfields is now the Park Hill Prairie, hundreds of acres of the original prairie. Saturday I saw the meadowlark sing there, and walked among the purple thistle flowers while a hummmingbird drank.

I've oft-told the tale of diminishing prairie. I even wrote music about it, and am liable to burst into poetry on this topic at any point--usually a sad sign for my readers.

Yet tonight I think to myself how many other prairies people can yet save. The prairie of the air is an obvious one to those of us in north Texas, in which poorly regulated coal plants tinged our once-pristine air. More flesh-and-blood are all the people who grow up without parents who take care of them properly. Even the helpless pets who
are owned by people who can't be bothered, and become unfashionable accessories in shelters can be helped and rescued.

I think it's good to walk in saved prairie, because it helps me to remember that sometimes things can be saved, preserved, and loved. Amid endings are new beginnings.
In every potential damnation lies the possibility of grace.