Gossamer Tapestry

Reflections on conservation, butterflies, and ecology in the nation's heartland

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prairie Adventure with Andy and Adam

About three weeks ago, I went on my annual Arizona trek. Part of my plans involved meeting up with Homer and heading down to Bisbee to visit Cobban and his partner Ray. As is his wont, in advance of my arrival, Homer did a poll on his blog to determine what dessert he should whip up for the occasion (lemon cupcakes. They were delicious).

The day before my departure for Arizona, an email appeared in my inbox:
My name is Andy; I'm an acquaintance of Homer Thiel and I found your blog through my huzbin Adam via Homer. Apparently you know Ray and Cobben as well? Crazy.

My family has an old 400 acre place in southwest Wisconsin in the driftless area that we've been gradually restoring to tall-grass prairie and oak savanna for the last 25 years or so.
Amazing! Fascinating! The very next day. we decided to get together on my first night in Arizona. In another amazing coincidence, they lived 3 houses away from the B&B where I was staying (cue Twilight Zone music...). We spent the evening taking and drinking wine (Rodger will find a theme here). They were both delightful folks, and very much kindred spirits.

This past weekend, Adam and Andy were up in Wisconsin on their prairie. Yesterday, Leon and I headed on up to see the place and meet Andy's parents, who own the property. Tom and Eva are every bit a nice as their son (apples not falling far from the tree and all that), and we had a delightful day. The 400 acres is most impressive.

Restored prairie on dry hillside

The family has obviously put a lot of work into their restoration. The oldest sections are reverting very well to native vegetation. The newest are, well, new, but I'm sure they will come along just fine. The wetlands, currently pink with Joe Pye weed are especially impressive. The farm is in the driftless area, so it's quite hilly. The underlying rock is sandstone rather than the limestone that I'm more accustomed to.

Driftless Area - This hill wasn't flattened by the last glacier

View from the sandstone bluffs on one of the hills

Wet prairie with Joe Pye Weed

We were invited to dinner- and stayed, even though this meant not getting home until 11:30 last night. The late afternoon view from the deck where we dined (photo below) faded into a night of flickering candles and fireflies, accompanied by good food and conversation. Our new friendships have been such an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

View from the table at the start of dinner

L-R: Doug, Adam, Andy, Leon

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At 00:04, Blogger Ur-spo said...

I should get a royalty for all the benefits you have received from blogging!

At 06:24, Blogger Floridacracker said...


At 09:44, Blogger Cobban said...

Great photos! Glad to see you all meeting up in Wisconsin. What a small world!

At 10:04, Blogger Ray said...

Absolutely glorious!

At 12:04, Anonymous Mark H said...

FABULOUS! What a Thrill to read of MORE fabulous people you meet in your travels. I am always warmed to read of other gay people living like we do......sort of in the background, but more powerfully being truly human and active in good positive things. Can't wait to see you again and meet Leon (trip to Chicago?)....... and we'd love to see Homer again as well.

At 12:13, Blogger Will said...

The property looks wonderful, a kind of snapshot of what it must all have been like and extremely beautiful all on its own.

I love the last picture--all these handsome, hot, bearded guys!

At 16:34, Anonymous Andy said...

aw shucks ...

Doug & Leon: Thanks for your wonderful company, your interest and all of your wisdom! We had a great time and learned a lot. I'll let you know if we find out what that weird not-quite-rough-not-quite-prairie blazing star turns out to be ...

... or if any of your readers happen to be liatris experts, I'll send in some clear pictures for you to post.

At 22:38, Blogger Doug Taron said...

Spo- You should. I can't thank you enough for getting me started on this.

FC- The Driftless Area is parts of Wisconsin and adjoining states that escaped glaciation in the last ice age.

Cobban- It was fun. You are part of the reason that we were able to connect up. Thanks.

Ray- Thanks.

Mark- It would be great to see you guys again. Is a trip to Chicago in the works for the two of you?

Will- It was amazing. People sometimes tell me that they have prairie on their property. Generally they don't. These guys do.

Andy- The pleasure was all ours. I'm so glad that we have met.

At 22:50, Blogger Homer said...

Adam and Andy are very nice young men!


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