Our pipeline had a haircut today. Early this morning I heard the mechanical rumbling and clanging of big mowing equipment and guessed right away that they had come to do the deed. The leaves have thinned enough for me to see the orange tractors running up and down the steep hills while a white pickup sat near our bench on top of the hill to keep an eye on the proceedings. I kept busy writing and running errands, hoping that they'd be through before dark. Around 4:00, when the dogs and I headed out to see the buzz cut, the tractors were finished with this section (Emma Cudd Road to Lawson's Fork) and heading back to the road. We hid out until they passed. Sigh... it's always a little depressing to see a smooth lawn where a prairie had just been, even though I know this mowing is just what keeps the prairie flowers happy and healthy. But the rose hips were gone - the ones I planned to pick... the berries of the big patch of winged sumac were gone - the berries I planned to draw. All chopped up and spit out. While I was standing with my back to the sun, looking at the neat, close cropped grass, the wind gusted around me and turned into a little dust devil on the flat, open land, twirling brown leaves in a mini-tornado that lasted about five seconds - no more. That couldn't have occurred yesterday.
I turned and hiked back into the woods where I found this weird puff ball thing. It's not the same as the other one I talked about a couple weeks ago. This one was not in the open sun, but growing in the remains a fallen pine trunk deep in the woods. This one had a potato shape and big cracks that revealed layers of crust and a mound of spores the color of dark chocolate inside. Drawing it helped me forget the haircut... and by tomorrow I'll be used to the idea and think it looks great. I'll remember how beautiful it will look this winter if it snows, and how the spring flowers will get more sun and be more prolific next year...
Oh boy, I feel better already!