The Cedar
is an enduring member
of the prairie community.
Eastern Red Cedar—
Juniperus virginiana—
is native to the prairie.
Some, a little further east,
near Sand Springs,
are around 500 years old.
Most of the trees on the prairie
live along creeks.
But cedars pop up in the grasses
—which are allelopathic,
toxic to many other species—
and, now that we have built fences
and given up controlled burns,
they proliferate.
Once planted
as shelter belts
and around houses,
they remain
long after humans have moved away—
lone reminders of a time
when this community
was home too
to many human families.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe location of a neighbor’s house, long ago

Our paternal grandfather
brought four cedars
from Kansas when he moved his family
here to the farm. Two remain,
as do we
two sisters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwo cedars and a Hackberry, east side of farmhouse

Half a mile south,
down at the Floral Ridge Cemetery,
rows of cedars on the west and north
shelter old tombstones,
some fallen, some leaning,
some where words
have been removed by years of wind and rain.


The cedars in the center of the graveyard
are worn too—
pushed northward by the prevailing wind,
ripped and gouged by storms.
Yet they heal,
and still provide food and habitat
for a variety of neighbors;
their strength and character,
for all who remain