Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Just Add Water

A reminder of the prairie's color - just add moisture!

This winter's mild weather has been something of a phenomenon in northeast Kansas. It has seemed like early November since... early November. Yesterday, the 69 degree weather was a siren call to everyone on two wheels, from mopeds to Harleys. I always turn to look when I hear a big twin engine coming down the street. I cannot help myself. For a fleeting instant, it always feels as if someone I love is coming home. Of course, these days it is usually an old graybeard (someone my age) on his first Harley. I can always tell how long someone has been riding by how soon they put their feet down when coming to a stop. The sooner they put down their feet, the fewer the road miles.

But that is not what I genuinely want to write about this morning. Due to this lengthy dry and mild weather, the prairie has lost her color. The hills are a grayish dead wherever you look. On the way to the barn there are clumps of individual plants that still retain their reddish hue. This might be from the various holes in the water hose, now that I think about it. As drab and as lifeless as the prairie looks now, it will only take a small amount of moisture to revive her and restore the colors.

I was looking for something to post today and revisited these early November photographs. The first was taken from my road. It is the pasture just to the east of mine. The second one, taken the same day, was the view from the shoulder of Interstate 70. (It was not an emergency stop - I am such an old anarchist!) I had forgotten about the orb in the highway photo. Some people believe orbs are spirits, paranormal evidence, but most people say they are simply artifacts of digital photography. Whatever their cause, they do have an ephemeral quality. To me, it looks like the moon untethered and freely roaming the prairie.

Friday, January 20, 2012


It is a cosmic mystery, this physical life. We accept outrageous events as mundane and take miracles for granted. How can human beings seriously entertain boredom or sadness during a lifetime on such a planet? We are as mysterious as the planet.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Realized Dreams

Geese and Human Beings in Flight

Since the first human brain crossed the evolutionary threshold into the capacity to dream of what could be, the dream of flight was paramount. It took us a good long while of dreaming, but once we made the jump, it was an exceedingly fast evolution, from December 17, 1903 to July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 touched down on the lunar surface.

My first time off the ground was in a small private plane above Wichita, Kansas. My first commercial flight was from Kansas City to Philadelphia, and we flew through towering white cloud canyons and brilliant sunlight the entire route. It was too enchanting to be frightening even though each change in the angle of the airplane caused something loose within the walls of the plane to rattle from one end of the cabin to another.

We are such an arrogant and difficult species that we take the miraculous accomplishment of routine air travel for granted. To add insult, some of our troublesome brethren have instigated the foolish conspiracy theory that walking on the moon was an elaborate hoax. If western civilization suddenly falls into ruins or gradually declines into obscurity, the human race may indeed forget men first walked on the moon in the twentieth century. Some future historian may uncover bits of the fake moon landing theory and cast the hateful light of doubt forever upon one of mankind's most amazing achievements.

Now in the twenty-first century, America has given up the dream of flying to other worlds, agreeing to hitch rides into space. America has been conquered by the frightened, the small- minded, the angry and the hateful. We have killed our collective shining dream, once given voice by our young President when he said "We choose to go the the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Despite the political vagaries, the rise and fall of fortunes, the ebb and flow of civilization, nature will hold the dream of flight for mankind. As long as it is necessary, wild geese will migrate, making their long seasonal flight high in the cloud canyons. And beneath the night sky, a human being listening for their traveling calls will feel the old evolutionary urge to follow them into the sky.

The Best Way to Finish a Monday

Beauty in the eye of the beholder...

It is good to travel with friends...

A different route home last night meant I was in the right place at the right time to take dozens of photographs of hundreds of geese in an industrial pond. I had to speed to the next intersection to turn around, but it was worth it.

For some time, I have been considering the way human energy and natural energy can combine into something unexpectedly beautiful. This is a radical leap for me, a fundamental shift in philosophy. I have always considered human interference in the natural world as vile defacement of a grand work of art. As if in answer to my recent ruminations, the geese, the water, the buildings and the light combined to provide something truly beautiful.

The spontaneous purchase of a digital camera (that I certainly could not afford) turned out to be a great idea. I have taken many beautiful photographs. I post the good ones on my blog but save the best ones for myself. I need some technical training to enhance my skill with the camera and the digital media, but I believe I have at last found a way to capture the ordinary magnificence of the Kansas landscape.

After I had drove away from the birds floating amid the reflective geometric shapes, a spectacular sunset presented itself within the frame of my windshield.  I captured a deep orange sun column and a mysterious twister. The photos of the sun column turned out too good to post, but the twister needs to be shared. I suspect it was a rare appearance of the tornado that carried Dorothy to Oz.

A few of the magnanimous Canadians who graciously shared their pond with the enormous crowd of migratory "others".

The way to Oz

Another day in paradise...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Beginning the Final Year

Trumpeter Swans in Wabaunsee County 1-2-2012

The Mayan long count calendar ends on the winter solstice of this new year. Everyone has heard this information and many speculate the world will end on that day. Everything eventually comes to some manner of conclusion but unless human beings succeed in dealing a death blow to the earth with weapons of mass destruction, the world will still be in existence on December 22, 2012. It is a bit worrisome to learn that Iran is threatening the West with blocking the Strait of Hormuz. The United States of Corporations has gone to war over far less provocation. I do not think we are going to escape our collective karma as easily as the world coming to an end. The human species owes a infinite number of amends.

When I finally ventured forth into this brand new year, I came across a wonderful surprise: five swans in a small farm pond just down the road. I had never seen swans in the wild in my entire life. I backed my car up a quarter of a mile when I realized my camera was in the car.

A bevy of swans.

The birds effortlessly explored the small waters, continually making companionable noises. I do not understand why some human beings fail to recognize that animals enjoy their lives on this planet as thoroughly as we do. The only wild swans I had ever heard of were trumpeter swans and, as far as I knew, they had been hunted almost to extinction. A quick google search proved that trumpeter swans have been sighted in over half of Kansas counties in recent times. Great news, and what a way to start the year.