(Mis)adventures on the Alderville Prairie

On a lovely Saturday in July, Jack the Wonder Dog and I visited the Alderville Prairie (officially the Alderville First Nation Black Oak Savanna), which is Canada’s easternmost pocket of surviving prairie. It’s a beautiful and wondrous place that I discovered shortly after moving here 15 years ago. It inspired me to learn more and begin my own tiny prairie pocket.

As restoration continues at the Alderville Prairie, it’s been delightful to watch the additions and changes. There’s open prairie and beautiful woods.

Rare-Tallgrass-Habitat sign



Alderville Restoration-activities


New Jersey Tea
New Jersey Tea








I had tried growing New Jersey Tea at my place, but they disappeared after a couple of years. I was happy to see them thriving on the prairie, along with other beautiful native prairie forbes.

Purple Vetch & Blazing Star
Indian Grass
Indian Grass

All of these native prairie plants are flourishing throughout the prairie.

6 Prairie-Lives-On

Hoary Vervain
Hoary Vervain
Butterfly weed



Entrance to the Black oak forest




Misadventure Begins

Then we came to the forested part, which gives this savanna its name. We were very hot after walking through the sunny prairie and the forest brought cool shade and inviting shadowed side paths. I continued taking pictures along the way, and had to put my keys down at one point, mentally reminding myself to pick them up after taking the picture (I had no pockets, having not originally intended to visit the prairie that day – it was a spur of the moment thing). Of course, you know what happened then…but I didn’t realize it until much later. The camera was beginning to act strangely; purplish blotches & swirls, then the odd shot that seemed okay. (None of the shots taken in the forest turned out.)

As we exited the side path to re-join the main one, I realized that I had left the keys on the ground way back there! We traced our steps quickly back to where I thought they were…not there. Back again, looking carefully along the way this time…still nothing. Okay, it must have been farther back on the side path, I reasoned. Back we went again – we were becoming very familiar with that path by then! No sign of the keys still. Jack and I were both hot and tired and losing patience. I stood there, where the side path leaves the main path, trying to decide what to do next. I had an extra car key in my bag, which was, of course, locked in the car, but maybe I could somehow figure that out (not thinking rationally at this point). I had left the water bottle there, too, as I wanted my hands free for photography and dog leash.

I decided to head back, but kept my eyes on the path just in case.

Lo and behold, thank my lucky stars, there they were! I had put them down way before we entered the side path.

We headed back, taking the other loop through the prairie and back to the car. I tried one last time for a picture as I really wanted this one. Rick Beaver is a devoted environmentalist, biologist & artist, and an acquaintance who always knows the name of the plant I recognize, but can’t name, or what’s going on in the world of birds. Rick grew up playing and exploring in what’s now the official Alderville First Nation Black Oak Savanna as a child and youth, and was the driving force behind its restoration.

Rick Beaver Trail


My final picture of the day would have been quite beautiful – a sweeping panorama of the prairie. This is what I got. Shortly thereafter, a new camera was on the short list. I’m now looking forward to an autumn visit to capture in my memory (and maybe in photos) the beautiful waving prairie of the russet Indian Grass and the magnificent Bluestem, along with all the native Asters. Then in the Spring…

11 Then-this-happened

4 Replies to “(Mis)adventures on the Alderville Prairie”

  1. Deb Weyrich-Cody says: Reply

    Thanks for sharing your day with us Jane. Can’t wait to see the 2014 TallGrass Summer Saga pics from your new camera: )
    Need to see how many of these grasses are in my yard as well – maybe you could let me tag along?
    I’ll be following here regardless, now that I’ve (re)discovered your blog…

  2. What a beautiful sight! We have enough cultivated land. I love to see some of nature’s splendor undisturbed.

  3. so happy you found your keys.
    lovely to visit the prairie~
    we have one here in Fl too. It is lovely! I love grasslands and all the inhabitants.

    1. Aren’t they magical places, Anne?

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