Prairie Time
A Blackland Portrait
Natural History
5.5 x 8.5, 272 pp.
23 b&w photos. Map.
Pub Date: 10/07/2013
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
Price:        $22.95


Published by Texas A&M University Press

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2007 Carroll Abbott Memorial Award, presented by the Native Plant Society of Texas

Prairie Time

A Blackland Portrait

By Matt White
Foreword by James A. Grimshaw Jr.

In its most extensive prime, the Texas Blackland Prairie formed a twelve-million-acre grassy swath across the state from near San Antonio north to the Red River. Perhaps less than one tenth of one percent of this vast prairie remains—small patches tucked away here and there, once serving as hay meadows or sprouting from rock too stony to plow.

Matt White’s connections with both prairie plants and prairie people are evident in the stories of discovery and inspiration he tells as he tracks the ever dwindling parcels of tallgrass prairie in northeast Texas. In his search, he stumbles upon some unexpected fragments of virgin land, as well as some remarkable tales of both destruction and stewardship.

Helping us understand what a prairie is and how to appreciate its beauty and importance, White also increases our awareness of prairies, past and present, so that we might champion their survival in whatever small plots remain.

Matt White is the author of The Birds of Northeast Texas and is a regular nature columnist for the Mount Vernon Optic-Herald. He studies and grows prairie plants on his land near Campbell.

What Readers Are Saying:

“It seems fair that every region, every landscape, every place deserves a champion. The imperiled prairies of northeast Texas certainly have one in Matt White, a native son and an unabashed prairie enthusiast. Whether he is writing about mycorrhizal fungi, gilgai topography, rattlesnake master, buffalo wallows, or mima mounds, it is apparent that he lives, breathes, and relishes his subject matter. As such, he offers a credible voice and insight into the blackland prairie, its history, its residents, its architecture, and its natural diversity. His enthusiasm was obviously genuine. It was also infectious and encompassing. At times, I felt like I was right alongside him at the moment of discovery.”--Carter Smith, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

“ . . . does a powerful job of presenting the evidence that should raise readers’ awareness and give them an appreciation of Nature’s grandeur. His enthusiasm, which his style reflects, is as contagious as one reads. The use of some of the plants by Native Americans, the wild birds that depend on those natural areas, down to the history of the regions—all blend together and make the narrative soar well beyond that of a mere catalog of this and that.” --James A. Grimshaw, Jr., Texas A&M University–Commerce

“Readers of Prairie Time should prepare themselves. They should prepare themselves to be swept up in a stirring and fascinating blend of prairie origins, prairie settlement, family history, science, and deeply felt forays into the blackland prairies of North Central Texas. Writing in an evocative style that calls to mind dramatists of science such as Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods), Michael Poulan (The Botany of Desire), or Lewis Thomas (The Medusa and the Snail) White roams, studies, documents, and savors the remnants of what was once one of the greatest treasures of the continent—the blackland prairies. And thankfully he coaxes us, like ‘best friends,’ into this world with him to marvel at the riches the North Texas prairie still holds for us. This is surely to become a bible for prairie restoration.” --Scooter Cheatham

“ . . . an incredible tale of both destruction and hope. . .” --Lone Star Sierran

“Any Texas naturalist should want this book in his or her library.”--The Bryan/College Station Eagle

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