The Last Prairie – A Sandhills Journal by Stephen R. Jones is a collection of essays that all relate to the Nebraska Sandhills. Jones is a naturalist, and his essays contain a nice variety of science, from the big,
“I lie in the moist sand gazing up at the constellations – the summer triangle overhead, red Antares on the southern horizon, and the Big Dipper suspended above the pines.”
to the small,
“While walking along the road, I stalk a flashing beetle and snare it with my hand. It flutters in my palm for a few seconds and then settles down in the flashlight beam, half an inch long, brown and yellow, with long, dusky wings and a square, armored head.”
The essays are not all naturalist science, Jones mixes in a considerable amount of history and humanity as well. Native American history and culture is a common thread throughout as is the European agricultural history that brought so many changes to the Sandhill country. The clash of these two cultures is captured perfectly in the following quote Jones uses to start his essay titled, “Grass.”
“Grass no good upside down.” – Plains Indian admonition to white settlers.
In short, this is an excellent little book, and well worth the read if you can find a copy. The book is published by University of Nebraska Press.