Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Excerpt: THE TALLGRASS PRAIRIE READER, edited by John T. Price

To celebrate the flowers of July, an excerpt from The Tallgrass Prairie Reader, edited by John T. Price.

The sun is high and hot. A single yellow jewelweed blossom, large and pale yellow, not orange like the jewelweeds in the pasture and the draws, dangles above the stream. A hummingbird zooms and sizzles through the flowers. The propeller wash of his wings shakes the whole plant from stem to stern. Mulleins along the stream have reached their peak. Spires plastered with pale-yellow blossoms, pale-green and hairy leaves flopped out. Gold coral fungus grows out of old stumps. One could go about gathering an enormous yellow bouquet out of the heart of July. Fill the arms with orange lilies, the ubiquitous gold; sweep up the sunflowers, the gold honeysuckle, the great stalky suns of compass plants and prairie dock; find clumps of black-eyed Susans rimmed with gold, and wild coreopsis, ragwort and squaw weed through the high, dry woods, yellow hearts of daises and bedstraw in the fields.

Gold bugs, yellow butterflies, orange lilies. What to do with this great fragrant glow? Well, hold on to it. You’ll want it in the days to come.

--Josephine W. Johnson, The Inland Island (1969)

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