Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday prairie walk....

I'm playing hookie from church, but spent a fine morning reading God's Word on the front porch with my hot coffee on the side. I reckoned it was a good day for a prairie walk in Chuck's. Chuck's is a pasture that is mostly made up of gumbo and alkali (soil types) but overflows with wildflowers in the spring season. My mission was to find the Gumbo Lily for which this blog is named and to explore, walk, and refresh. The dogs came too. They always appreciate a good run and they like to explore and chase antelope along the way.

The yellow flowers are called Golden Pea or Sweet Pea and as you can see, there's plenty of cactus to be found in this desolate pasture.

Here is the alkali I was talking about. The water from melted snow and rain brings up the salty, bitter minerals that crystallize and make the land white like snow.

Doesn't this grass look like it's growing in snow?

After a long walk along the cow trails, we came to water. The reservoir was clean and full of fresh water. I realize this mud does not look "clean" but it is good, fresh drinking to cows and wildlife. The dogs took a swim and I waded. The mud is very sticky so I had to scrape it off my feet before I slipped my Birkies back on. Dirty feet always make me wonder whether or not Jesus used a scrub brush when He washed the disciples' feet. (John 13)

Killdeer tracks along the banks of the reservoir.

The gumbo lily grows in the dry soil of barren clay prairies, buttes, and badlands. It is sometimes called the Gumbo Evening Primrose. It is very low-growing 4-8" tall. There is a taller sister to this primrose called Nuttal Evening Primrose which grows 1-2 feet tall and is a much courser plant with smooth whitish bark. The flower, however, is very similar.

It's taproots grow strong and deep into the soil and they are very difficult to remove and transplant. I've tried and failed many times. The flower is so delicate it reminds me of thin tissue paper or the lightest, finest silk. The flower measures about 3 inches across and has four heart-shaped petals that are white, fading to pink. The gumbo lily blooms mostly in the morning and then closes during the warm afternoon to reopen again in evening. They are pollinated by night-flying insects. I often think of myself as a gumbo lily, living in a remote place on the prairie with taproots that grow deep. It would be hard to yank me out of the plains now that I've been blooming here for 27 springs.


  1. YAY! You found a gumbo lily, and what a great picture!

  2. Well now I know what your blog is named after! How fun to come upon one of these beauties!

  3. It is soo fascinating where you live. I love the thought about Jesus using a scrub brush. I think He needed some nice mint foot cream. Clarice

  4. Oh gosh, I love those last few sentences. Thanks for a wonderful, informative post. The Gumbo Lily is beautiful. And I had no idea cactus grew so far north AND in a "plain" state!

  5. Jaimi, you'll have to go out gumbo lily hunting before they're gone.

    Ellen B, isn't it fun to know that there is a "real" Gumbo Lily (besides me)?

    Clarice, I know how dirty sandalled feet get when they're out walking in the dirt so I can only imagine a scrub brush was needed. Mint foot cream would be nice too.

    Thimbleanna, I'm glad you enjoyed the info on the gumbo lily and yes, cactus abounds way up north too! I'll try to take a pic of them blooming soon.


  6. I grew up in western North Dakota and western South Dakota - a prairie area that looks a lot like your pictures. Your entries almost make me homesick. Love the pictures. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I enjoyed the walk, the alkali soil (wow!), the killdeer tracks, and of course, the gumbo lily! I think the name suits you quite well :-).

  8. I love the outdoors too. I enjoyed your walk with you, thank you very much.( I have arthritis in my lower back making walking painful there )I could feel the peace there and it is good. And he said "peace be still " and the waves ceased.
    Elsie <><

  9. Lena,
    I know the area well.

    Laura, I'm glad you enjoyed walking with me.

    Elsie, perhaps you can "walk" with me this way!


  10. Enjoyed the walk also. This is all so different than our terrain--fascinating! Hope the snows have left plenty of water this spring and summer in that reservoir. The Gumbo Lily is beautiful. Abby


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