Prairie Pleasures and Treasures

By Linda Wiggen Kraft

“If you plant it, they will come.”

These are the words of my friend Christine, who with her husband Gary, have lived for the last seventeen years on ten acres of restored native prairie, savannah and woodland. They planted it and have seen them come. The plants call to the insects, pollinators, birds, wildlife and they have arrived. People come to enjoy and learn from this land.

It was during a recent visit that I experienced the power of these acres. There is an energy that sinks deep into a person. It is as if the land is rejoicing in its reconnection to the roots of its lost native history.

Gary describes this deep web of life, “We interact with it almost every day. We have been immersed in restoration, observed and developed relationships, and become deeply enamored with the diversity of life. We watch the progression of blooming patterns through the seasons, greet the wood thrush, yellow-throated warbler, and indigo bunting in the spring, rejoice in a summer rain, and celebrate the successful recruitment of a new plant species, usually in a micro-habitat where moisture, light and soil are just right. This place has become a model of diverse, native high quality nature.”

For Christine, prairie is a homeland where she is “… discovering something amazing each day, often a colorful flower and all the other wild things going about their lives in this special habitat, a real biological homecoming. I take walks on mowed paths in my yard to see what I can find, usually while experiencing a sense of peace. There is a show going on all year long in the natural world.”

Taking the time to be really present allows an opening of wonder. For Christine, “Regular observations of this natural phenomenon seems to create some kind of magical bridge that allows me to cross over, developing positive relationships with these incredible life forms, both plant and animal. I feel connected, happy, hopeful, and honored to be a part of it all.”

They call their land “Earth Mirrors”, a name that reflects the many relationships and teachings of this land. Teachers themselves, here they are often learners. One of the earth based teachings is about the soul nurturing that takes place. Christine finds it when, “Just stepping out my door, I am continually mesmerized all year long – mind, body, spirit. Cares of the day seem to float away and inspirational notions take hold when I venture through the prairie. Maybe one day, I’ll feel like creating a colorful mandala or taking some wildlife photographs, maybe one day I’ll feel like writing a poem or designing a lesson to share with my students. The prairie helps me to calm down and quiet my mind.”

I’m thankful for my recent visit. The inspiration of visiting “Earth Mirrors” is to bring the power and essence of such a place into my gardens, and those I work on. I can’t wait to visit again.

Gary Schimmelpfenig & Christine Torlina live an hour outside of St. Louis at their home and land called “Earth Mirrors”. They are leaders in restoration of native habitats in the St. Louis area.

Linda Wiggen Kraft is a landscape designer who creates holistic and organic gardens. She is also a mandala artist and workshop leader.

Visit her blog: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com/blog or website: www.CreativityForTheSoul.com. Contact her at 314 504-4266.