To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.
Yesterday we spent almost three hours walking through the wetland ponds and short-grass prairie at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is still an active military clean-up site in that the central part of the 27-square-mile facility is still being decontaminated. The refuge, which is on the southernmost portion of the Arsenal, is open only on weekends and even then access is limited to the Visitor's Center and refuge. The arsenal was first activated during WWII and then again during the Cold War era. This was my first visit to the refuge since it was officially opened in 1992. Though I had heard about it from people who'd been there, I just couldn't get excited about visiting a place whose original purpose was to develop, manufacture and store nerve gas--and other deadly chemicals--for potential use in war-time against other human beings.
Though it clearly looked like a military base, complete with the guarded entrance where we had to produce picture ID's, once we were inside and driving to the visitor's center it was absolutely breathtaking to look over acres of short-grass prairie with waving grasses and blooming wildflowers. The refuge has 7 miles of trails which wind through three wetland ponds that are home to many types of wildlife. Prairie seems such a simple word for such a beautiful experience, yet the cleansing effect on mind and body was equally as stimulating as mountains, forests or oceans.
Check out this link for a little history and photos of some of the wildlife.
In searching online for a good site about short grass prairies, I found this delightful and educational one called, Build a Prairie. I learned a lot and even recognized some of the grasses and flowers we saw yesterday.