Tuesday, January 5, 2016



Hi all you fine folks out there! It is cold and rainy here but the land oh so needs the moisture. Speaking of land…what exactly is the difference between a grassland, steppe, plain and prairie? Have you ever been hiking and come upon a beautiful big meadow. Is this a grassland? What about when you’re driving through the mountains and you crest over a ridge and there below you stretches a gorgeous open valley. Could that be considered a small plain? And we have all heard of the old TV show l”Little House on the Prairie”…So what are the differences?

Well let’s go to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to find out:

1)  land in or predominantly in grass
2)  a tract of grassland: as
a :  a large area of level or rolling land in the Mississippi River valley (USA) that in its natural uncultivated state usually has deep fertile soil, a cover of tall coarse grasses,
and few trees.
b :  one of the dry treeless plateaus east of the Rocky Mountains that merge on their east side with the prairies proper and are characterized by shorter grasses and drier less fertile soil.

Plains :
  1. elevated plains region West central United States and West Canada East of the Rocky Mountains and chiefly West of the 100th meridian extending from NE British Columbia and NW Alberta SE and South to include the Llano Estacado of New Mexico and Texas.

Steppe (right):
1) a large, flat area of land with grass and very few trees especially in eastern Europe and Asia.
2)  one of the vast usually level and treeless tracts in southeastern Europe or Asia.
3)  arid land with xerophilous vegetation found usually in regions of extreme temperature range and loess soil.

1)  farmland occupied chiefly by forage plants and especially grasses.
a :  land on which the natural dominant plant forms are grasses and forbs.
b :  an ecological community in which the characteristic plants are grasses.

So then, is a valley or a meadow a prairie? No because it isn’t large enough. What about a plain? It isn’t large enough for a plain either. How about a steppe? Again these mountain valleys and meadows aren’t large enough to qualify. Well,
how about a grassland. I think valleys and meadows can qualify as a micro grassland. After all they do meet the definition of “an ecological community in which the characteristic plants are grasses.”

But what about the Plain of Shinar that the Bible talks about? Genesis 11:2 says, “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there”. It obviously isn’t in the Americas which
What the plain of Shinar looks like today. A desolate place devoid of grass in Iraq.
define the term “plains” nowadays. So what was/is the “land of Shinar?” Well, we can look at it today and see that it was indeed a vast area usually level and treeless. Then why was it called a plain? It’s not in North America. Because back then, around 2241 B.C. the Americas weren’t yet discovered. As a matter of fact, none of the rest of the world had been discovered. So the people could call this vast grassy area anything they liked. And they chose the word “plain”. 

In my novel I researched and described the plain of Shinar as closely as I could to what it may have looked like 4,000 years ago. I hope all you people out there get a chance to read my book “Of One Tongue” and enjoy getting “transported” back in time to a place very different than today.

Until next time take care and God bless,
Willow Dressel


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