Thursday, November 13, 2014

Frost Flowers

Frost Flowers
Super cold temperatures have a arrived on southwest Missouri's tallgrass prairie and, with them, an annual event that our family greatly looks forward to each and every autumn. Experiencing the sight of the season's first swirly, twirly, and utterly beautiful frost flowers!

Frost flowers really aren't flowers at all, but are beautiful, delicate ribbons of ice that form on the lower stem of certain native Missouri plants.

Delicate Ribbons Of Ice
Frost flowers occur only in the late fall after the first few hard freezes of the season. Frost flowers are formed when the plants' stems are ruptured by the first hard freeze, yet the root system is still sending up plant sap from the warmer ground. The sap pushes through the broken stem and freezes on contact with the cold air. As more sap moves up the stem, it forces the freezing stream of white ice crystals into ornate and beautifully folded ribbons of frosted swirls.

Ornate And Beautifully Folded Ribbons Of Frosted Swirls
Missouri plants known to produce frost flowers include dittany, stinkweed, and white crownbeard.
A Swirly, Twirly An Utterly Beautiful Frost Flower
If you've not had the pleasure of experiencing your first frost flower, but would like to, it's not too late. I know it's cold, but get out early in the morning before the sun's rays melt the delicate formations away. If you need to know where to go to observe frost flowers locally e-mail me ( - please put FROST FLOWERS on the subject line) or message me on Facebook (Rebecca Brown Knox). I'll be more than happy to point you in the right direction. :)

Until next time,

White Crownbeard (Wingstem, Frostweed)

Frost Flower Coloring Sheet

Frost Flower Coloring Sheet - Uncolorc

Today I looked around online to see if I could locate a frost flower coloring sheet for children, and I couldn't. So...I made one. It's not the greatest in the world, but at least it's something. If anyone would like to use it feel free to contact me at (please put FROST FLOWER COLORING SHEET on the subject line) and I will send it to you in a PDF.

Frost Flower Coloring Sheet - Colored
(Ignore the strawberry colored frost flower. They don't come in that color, but there's a story behind it. LOL!)
Until next time...

Monday, November 10, 2014

Video - Wind On The Tallgrass Prairie

Today I tried to capture the sounds of a windswept prairie. I love the tinkling sound 
of the tall grasses striking against one another during the middle of the video. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hiking The Path Of The Earth People

After supper this evening John and I decided to check out a new-to-us trail...Path of the Earth People at Prairie State Park. The trail has been there for quite a while, but one of the guys at work got it blazed yesterday, so, we decided, "Why not?" The trail is located across from the main part of the park on the south side of Central. It is two miles long and fairly level. It's not my favorite trail in the park, but it made for a wonderful late evening hike.

We started our hike about 5:30. Most of the area that we would be hiking in was still basking in late afternoon sun with just the far western border of the area in shadow.

One of the bright orange trail blazes laid out on the trail by David yesterday.

Prairie grasses laid before us streaked with sunshine and shadow.

The western sun filtering through the tall grasses gave them an appearance of being lit up from within.

Tall grasses swaying in the gentle breeze. What a beautiful evening!

As we hiked the trail the shadows continuously stretched out long before us. It's like we were chasing the last of the evening's sun rays but we could not catch them. 

The sunlight stayed one step ahead of us and was always just out of reach.

Sunlight highlights the top of this gentle swell of the land.

Sunlight highlights the the prairie just beyond us in golden splendor

The sun slips below the western horizon and suddenly the whole prairie is submerged into shadow.

The last rays of sun bid us farewell as the sun slips below the tree line to the west.

Red prairie grasses against an odd patch of bright green trail.

Here and there were the last bright splashes of brilliant color as the prairie plants prepare for winter's soon arrival. See the tiny thistle in full color right in the middle?

A fiery red flag mid the muted colors of autumn on the prairie.

The bright yellow of a goldenrod plant mid the muted colors of autumn on the prairie. 

The camera on my Ipod apparently picks up more light than the human eye, because, by this point, it was very nearly dark, yet these pictures look as though it's still daylight.

The trail zig-zagging ahead of us.

Here again...these last pictures amaze me! It was quite dark by the time these last pictures were taken, yet it appears to be daylight still. Wow!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Foggy Morning At Prairie State Park

It was another gorgeous day out on the prairie today, but this morning was super foggy. I hiked the quarter-mile loop before the fog burned off and took several pictures. Thought I'd share a few here.
The sun trying to burn through the fog.

Spider webs strung through tall grass like lines on telephone poles.

Big bluestem and sumac.

A spiderweb delicately strung between tall grasses hangs heavy with morning dew.

A close-up view of the same spiderweb.

More spiderwebs low in the grasses.

Spiderweb among sumac.

Stems of big bluestem stand like sentinels on the prairie patiently awaiting to herald news of winter's first icy blast.

Spiderweb mid big blue and sumac.

Spiderwebs strung and looped through the grasses.

Tiny web of some ground dwelling spider.

This spider web is delicately woven in a half-circle on the lower part of a big blue.

A lone meadowlark flies low across the prairie as the fog retreats, rolls away, and evaporates.

The dried red head of sumac plants stand just above the grasses on this south-facing slope.

The reds and golds of tallgrass prairie in autumn.

Fiery red sumac against a backdrop of gold and bronze.

A close-up of fiery red sumac with asters and what's left of late summer's ashy sunflowers.

The last bit of summer's green against prairie gold.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hiking Gayfeather Trail

What a beautiful morning this morning turned out to be! Cool and sunshiney with a cloudless blue sky! I started my morning off at work with a mile and half hike on Gayfeather Trail. Here are a few of the things I observed along the way...

The Gayfeather Trail-head and my beloved walking stick.

Bright yellow Ashy Sunflowers and several varieties of Goldenrod were the predominant wildflowers that dotted the prairie landscape this morning. 

A buffalo wallow.

I saw this one small sprig of azure Chicory growing along the trail. Growing up, Chicory was my favorite wildflower, but I don't see much of it here in southwest Missouri.

Prairie landscape stretches out to the treeline.

Prairie landscape stretches right out to the horizon.

Like I said...cloudless. What a beautiful, brilliant, blue sky!

Prairie grasses growing tall.

Another buffalo wallow. Can you see all the bison hoof prints?

Some of the last of this year's Gayfeather (a.k.a. Blazing Star)

Cord Grass (or Ripgut) swaying in the wind.

Clumps of Prairie Rose Gentian dotted the edges of the trail along the far side

Another view along the trail. 

I didn't get pictures of them, but I did see four White-tailed Deer on my outing and the bison herd was across the road from the trail-head.