I took my kids to my hometown this week for spring break. We spent an afternoon on the trails at Konza Prairie biological station, where researchers care for and study a section of tallgrass prairie, one of the few that remains in the US.
In a few months, wildflowers will pop up everywhere. In the fall, you can see why they call it tallgrass. Some of the Big Bluestem can reach 10 feet tall and has roots 12 feet into the soil.
Right now, it’s prescribed burn season. Fire is, and always has been, part of the prairie landscape. Spring fires make way for new plant growth, and keep large shrubs and trees from growing where they shouldn’t be.
We could see smoke from several spring burns on the horizon as we walked the trails today. As the afternoon light turned golden, we stood close to one of my favorite places on Earth. At the top of the rise, atop one of these Flint Hills, you can look in one direction to see my hometown and the river valley. If you look the other way, you can see what the prairie looked like hundreds of years ago. There are no buildings visible. No cell towers or signs of modern civilization. Just hills and golden grass.
The photo above holds so much anticipation. The expectation of an amazing view just a few steps away. The hope of a brilliant Kansas sunset over the prairie. The promise of flowers sprinkling the landscape come June.
This is my happy place.