Take just one step outside – there is overwhelming beauty that literally hits your face. Ginormous annual sunflowers block the door so you have to awkwardly maneuver around them. Once you make it past the sunflowers, there are even more beautiful flowers, in the prairie surrounding the house. I’m one of the Hubbard Fellows with The Nature Conservancy, and I live right on a grassland preserve.
Living on the preserve has its privileges – such as getting to explore the prairie whenever you feel like it. I love walking the two public trails right on property. The trail closest to the house takes you on a tour of the sandhills, sand that’s been wind blown many miles from the north. One of the best spots to hang out is at the top of the hill near the natural TV tower, overlooking the sunset to the West. Off the path of the second trail, over the fence, and into the trees, hides the clear lucid flowing South Channel Platte River. I can’t help but feel at peace when sitting along the side of the river, protected by the trees. No matter how many times I venture on the same path, I always find something new – a new flower, bird, or insect.
One of my favorite activities I’ve grown to love is grabbing a plant ID book and finding new plants. I never really had a full appreciation for plants until this fellowship but I have now seen the light. Prairies are full of diverse life that is astonishing to think about. I think about it often – how can so many different plants occupy a small area? Even when I’m out running or biking on the roads, I still look for new flowers on the side of the road. I’ve already learned a good amount of plants, but I know I still have a lot of plants to learn and get familiar with.
I’m tremendously fortunate and grateful to be able to live on the preserve during these uncertain times. I’m lucky that I can walk right outside and go on a hike in the prairie at the drop of a hat. I’ve found solace in the prairies, by the river, by the side of the road, in those sunflowers right outside the house.