PRAIRIE GRASS by Joan Soggie
I am very near-sighted.
Until I got my first glasses at the age of seven, I lived in a world of soft edges, hazy lines and indistinct features. Only what came within a few inches of my nose was clearly defined.
Perhaps that is why I became entranced with the tiny plants and creatures of the prairies, anything that could be studied while lying on my stomach in the grass, anything small enough to pick up and hold in my hand. I brought home toads in my pocket, carried interesting rocks in my lunch pail, decorated mudpies with colourful caterpillars, picked tiny bouquets of buttercups and snowdrops for my Mom. I was totally, blissfully happy.
By the time eyeglasses brought the wide world into focus, the pattern was already set. I have remained firmly attached to the small and insignificant organisms inhabiting our land. Anything I’ve learned in the intervening 70 years has only augmented their attraction. Butterflies migrating impossible distances, plants communicating through an underground network of fungi, cowbirds continuing habits acquired over hundreds of generations following bison herds - they make me fall to my knees in awe.
But my book Prairie Grass is not actually about these wonders of creation (or evolution, if you prefer.) Prairie Grass tells the story of two prairie families. One is Metis, one is settler. Both have deep and lasting ties to the land. Their stories are intimately connected to the fate of this most endangered of ecosystems, the North American grasslands.
Each chapter contains a drawing (several of them by artist Saskia Van Walsum) and a description of one of the species that make up that complex little-understood community of life.
Here is one for you now.
Three-flowered Aven. Bright green basal leaves. Hairy, toothed leaflets. Hairy reddish flowering stem. Nodding flowers in groups of three. Five purplish-red erect sepals and five pink to yellow petals. Flowers in spring, Thick rhizomes. Grows in moist open prairie. Other common names: Prairie smoke, Old man’s whiskers. No forage value. Gabriella’s Prairie Notes
If you read my book, you may meet characters you recognise, possibly from your own family. Or you may become reacquainted with a landscape you once knew. Whether it is a new or a déjà vu experience, I hope you will enjoy this way of seeing our shared history. It is our land, our people, our story.
Joan Soggie lives and writes in Elbow, Saskatchewan - most of the time. Her previous books are Mistaseni: Buffalo Rock of The Elbow and Looking for Aiktow: Stories behind the History of The Elbow of the South Saskatchewan River. Prairie Grass is her first work of fiction.
It is published by BWL Publishing Inc.
Prairie Grass is available from Amazon, Kobo, Indigo and all participating bookstores. https://books2read.com/Prairie-Grass
BWL Print 9780228610311
Amazon Print 9780228610328
Published by BWL Publishing Inc