Prairie Painter

Iowa wildflower Wednesday: A prairie home remnant in O'Brien County

Bruce Morrison is a working artist and photographer living with his wife Georgeann in rural southeast O’Brien County, Iowa. Bruce works from his studio/gallery – a renovated late 1920s brooding house/sheep barn. You can follow Morrison on his artist blog, Prairie Hill Farm Studio, or visit his website at Morrison’s studio.

When we found the acreage here in southeast O’Brien County 20 years ago, it was the perfect fit for us. We had a few trees and a small bit of wooded habitat with nice spring ephemerals, and some great hillside gravel slopes with actual native prairie remnants, something that has become less easy to find in Iowa.

This little spot may not be on the super quality charts, but even places like ours are disappearing much too frequently. The photographs shown here depict a little piece of what once was, when prairie habitats covered most of what is now Iowa.

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An affair with the landscape

Bruce Morrison shares some of the northwest Iowa landscapes he has photographed or painted. Top image: “View From Brian’s Overlook- Sunrise No.1” – (NW Clay County – photograph – © Bruce A. Morrison)

When my wife and I moved to our little acreage in northwest Iowa nearly 20 years ago, I had already experienced a lifetime of love and reverence for the Landscape. I can still remember my summers as a youngster on the Des Moines River, which I lived above in Fort Dodge, and almost daily hikes down the railroad tracks to a friend’s farm west of town – where the Lizard Creek spread below their “night pasture”, as they called it…and met downstream with the north fork where the Chicago Northwestern track crossed the waterway’s junction.

The hillsides above the creek were favored respites to lay on in the summer sun and dry off after a swimming hole visit or after wading a good fishing hole; and many times just to watch the valley’s pair of Red-tail Hawks magically hanging in the air high overhead. The views always left me wanting to hold them fast in my memory; it was an emotion I never shook.

“Red-tail Migration” – (pencil drawing – © Bruce A. Morrison)

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