If you’re looking for relaxation I wouldn’t immediately recommend walking along First Avenue on that segment north of Chicago Avenue.  There are no sidewalks, and even riding a bike there can re-awaken one’s interest in the afterlife – especially after a semi zooms past.   

In spite of these risks this is just where I found myself wandering over the weekend.  I had a destination in mind – the small prairie remnant across from the racetrack that the Thatcher Woods Savanna Restoration volunteers have labored to restore for several years now. 

I hadn’t been out there since winter, and I wanted to see how things were looking. It was a good excuse to get in a nice long walk too.  The prairie is looking good: the fall wildflowers glowed in the afternoon light.  It is a hopeful thing indeed to imagine this all has solid future, and even the potential for gradual expansion. 

But it’s survival is not guaranteed.  Invasive species surround and permeate the environment here. There’s no sugar-coating what a fight that will be.  Upon leaving the prairie I realized that I’d picked up a couple-hundred Beggar’s Ticks (Bidens spp.) on my clothing and shoes. As I walked on I plucked and tossed them into even rougher surroundings – hoping to slightly tip the balance of nature – and see their splashes of yellow in a someday summer.      

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Dave Coulter

I have been a horticulturist for thirty years working in the Chicago area and beyond. I have lived in Oak Park for over thirteen years. My writing has recently appeared in the journal Ecological Restoration...

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