Prairie Penstemons, Allerton, IL

June 7: Jim Z., the resident handyman, seems pleased that I've found inspiration in this small patch of prairie that he restored. To these few acres in the middle of a vast monoculture grid, he has reintroduced numerous species of wildflowers and grasses, having collected seeds from remnant plants that survive along railroad beds and little lots around the state. "That was 8/10ths of an ounce of seeds...that's all I got, and I scattered them out here," he said about the penstemons I'd painted.

It's a hot day with a cooling wind. Sun washing over the fields. I went out to spend time in the patch of prairie. I felt suddenly old -- not in terms of age but as a being who has been here for a while.