One of the first prairie flowers to bloom in the spring are the pasque flowers.  They thrive in gravel prairies and are found in various areas throughout Minnesota.  Yesterday I ventured south of the Twin Cities to a Minnesota Scientific and Natural Area.  When I first arrived, the morning was cool and overcast, but I was thrilled to have found a wonderful slope dotted with these small pasque flowers.  Standing only 4 to 5 inches tall, they are easily overlooked from a distance.  As I walked along I found more and more of these little gems pushing their blooms up from under the brown grasses.  I spent over an hour photographing, all the while accompanied by the sounds of Canada geese and mourning doves.   As I stopped to take in the beauty of the landscape around me the skies slowly cleared and I was treated to a warm sun and beautiful pasque flowers against a blue sky — a delightful and wonderful welcome to spring.

Kansas wildflowers_StaatsWe just recently returned from the Biking across Kansas ride where we traversed from the Colorado border, across the wide state of Kansas, to the eastern border with Missouri.  As the state has had plenty of rain this spring, the landscape was lush and green.  Although I was focused on bicycling (as opposed to photographing), what jumped out to me were the beautiful wildflowers that were dotting the fields and roadsides.  The coneflowers, butterfly milkweed, daisies, spider-wort — all were bursting into bloom.  Last year at this time I spent over two weeks in Iowa and was fortunate to document the daily changes in a prairie area.   That experience gave me a new appreciation for the wildflowers that grace our landscapes with their burst of color and beauty.  So our mode of travel across the state of Kansas by bicycle gave us front-row seats to this amazing display of blooms.