Holding Green for Winter Watch

Equisetum hyemale (toad-pipe) and Conocephalum salebrosum (cat’s tongue) and Adiatum pedatum (maidenhair fern, below) in deep Loess Hills ravines in late autumn. These species belong to some of the earliest plant taxa still in existence. Bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) were the first to evolve from aquatic plants, and pteridophytes (ferns, Equisetum and other spore-producing plants) appeared shortly thereafter in evolutionary time. Plants belonging to these groups are far older than seed-producing plants. Photos by Robert Smith in Fremont County, Iowa.

Fleshy Cup and Keep*

The primordial mornings of this world hunker in pockets here the deepest ravines escape the withering ambitions that come to blade it off or turn it over. Now I settle into a sylvan hollow a steep crease in an upland sweep where day is mostly made of dawn and the rest belongs to twilight (and a skinny slip of blue) where verdant being lives virgin presence and sugar-clay folds of soul make a fleshy cup and keep. Secrets learned at the bottom bind the body to an earthly-first becoming: liverworts and toad-pipes and maidenhair, autumn mosses and others going forth in spores and holding green for the winter watch.

Becoming a Naturalist 61, prose-poem by Jack Phillips.