Soft limestone sediments form tables capping miles of open grasslands across Kansas. The wetter eastern third of the state carved swales and stair stepping ravines through creamy white, buff colored and deep umber rich soils.
An asterisk like hub of rivers converge in the heart of the Flint Hills near Junction City all forcing their way into the Kansas River. For simplicity residents call it the Kaw River Valley.
It was once filled with a huge diversity of native plants each taking their turn at blossom in the brutal convergence of seasons on the prairie. Here and there beyond the arrogant swagger of grazing domestic hooves and steel bottom plows you will find swales which nurture annual wet footed flowering plants like Coreopsis Tinctoria showing their colors before giving way to the crushing blows of summer wind and dry cracked soils.
This painting is a good example of grassland in a mixed prairie prior to the contact with Europeans. In a wet year across a hill top it was common to find grass and flowering plants growing so thick that a man could not walk a straight line and could hardly walk between them at all without great difficulty. This energy rich system of cooperative growth would put down an inch of topsoil every one thousand years.