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The prairie: a place to ponder, wonder

Usually, I don't think much about prairies. They're out there. They are flat. They are part of our surroundings. Until I listened to the UND Faculty Lecture by Professor Richard Crawford this week, I didn't know why I liked them. But I gained a n...

Usually, I don't think much about prairies. They're out there. They are flat. They are part of our surroundings.

Until I listened to the UND Faculty Lecture by Professor Richard Crawford this week, I didn't know why I liked them. But I gained a new appreciation for the prairies on which I have lived for 80 years. Crawford's topic was, "The Metaphor of the Prairie: 35 Years of Watching the Mystery Unfold." I didn't realize before his talk that where we live is described as the northern tall grass prairie region. While the prairie has been described as oppressive in its monotony, Crawford says that isn't so.

He knows, because he has spent 35 years as a teacher and a researcher on the prairies and wetlands of North Dakota and Minnesota. This man knows about potholes and how they have been declining. He knows restoration of topsoil takes 100 years. He has worked with students to accelerate restoration by building and designing wetlands near Drayton, N.D., and Devils Lake.

Crawford is a Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor of Biology who cannot think in the box that is his office. All innovative thinking comes to him while sitting out on a prairie. His years of work have included the study of birds on prairies. So it goes without saying he is a strong advocate of conservation. He thinks the prairie exists as a community and it takes all of the community to preserve it. Toxic waste, he says, will catch up with us someday.

To him, the prairie is a place for discovery and for pondering simple and elegant beauty. It is a place to wonder, to celebrate learning and to dream. In the end, he says, we will conserve what we love.

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Dance and drill

Around Grand Forks this week, the topic has been the death of Sam Silverman. . . . As a downtown businessman and clothier, he was so well known in this community that the outpouring of tributes was unending. . . . He had a keen interest in people and a wry sense of humor. . . . And there are lessons to be learned about living a good life by remembering Sam. . . . But life goes on, and the UND Sioux hockey team is meeting the Minnesota Gophers on their ice tonight and Saturday. . . . Nothing would be finer than to chase them back into their holes. . . . Meanwhile, the Sioux hoopsters have finished their visit to the University of Minnesota-Mankato and are playing at Augustana in Sioux Falls on Saturday evening. . . . The next best thing to being there is to hear Scott Swygman tell about the game on the radio or read what Wayne Nelson says about it Sunday in the Herald. . . . Best bet for entertainment this weekend is the appearance of singer and songwriter Tom Brosseau, former Grand Forks resident, who is appearing at the Empire Arts Center Saturday evening. . . . His special guests are Hilary Hahn, Grammy-winning violinist, and guitarist Adam Levy. Brosseaus's latest CD "Grand Forks" was released this week. . . . Also on the entertainment scene is the state championship of North Dakota Association of Dance and Drill today and Saturday in the Alerus Center. . . .

Sunny side

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Cheerful person of the week: Job Christenson. Runner-up: Ron Gruwell.

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