Saturday, January 10, 2015

Paradise Lost

I escaped this week from the howling winds,
Fleeing from the tempest in the Northern Plains.
I couldn't bide the bluster of a Polar plunge.
Couldn't face the sleet and snow and absent sun.
I followed skeining geese, I set my compass to the south,
And nested in the orange groves next to Sandhill Cranes.

I spent a week in Paradise, lying on the shores,
Hiding from the storms that reached the Southern Plains
I relished in the glow of tropic sun upon the sand.
Spent time among the skimmers, working on my tan.
I rested like a sleeping bear, I lived the life of ease,
And feasted in the orange groves free of winter's chains.

I'm back now in the winds, the freezing cold I've joined anew,
North I came to bravely face the fact of Winter's reign.
I can no longer skip on life, no longer can I hide,
Duty called, dogs were lame, the donkeys thought I'd died.
I've gathered strength and stored up warmth, I've hid an ember deep,
And rested in the orange groves free from cold and ice and pain.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Bison Bust

ProfessorRoush often, perhaps almost monthly, has the opportunity to travel east of Manhattan towards Topeka on the major traffic tributary of I-70.   Just before Exit 328, on the south side of the road, is a metal shed with the slogan "Know God, Know Peace, No God, No Peace" in large letters that can't be missed by weary passengers from either side of the highway.   Of more immediate interest, to myself and perhaps others, is that the field next to this shed often contains a herd of 30-40 bison, grazing peacefully in the mornings against a virgin backdrop of Kansas prairie.

Recognizing the potential for a great photo or two, every time for the past year that I've headed to Topeka or parts beyond, I've tried to remember to bring my Nikon.  Unfortunately for me, the whole expedition has become an exercise in frustration, or, viewed in more charitable terms, an object lesson in the difficulties of obtaining a perfect photo.  Each time over the year that I have passed the field with a camera in the car, ready to pull over at the slightest glimpse of dark fur and stubby legs, there hasn't been a buffalo in sight.  Or it's during the middle of a thunderstorm.  Or it's too dark to get a usable photo.  On the one or two occasions that I've passed when every condition has been perfect;  buffalo present and during a dazzling and photogenic snowstorm, or in gentle morning sun with perfect light on the prairie, I have always managed to forget the camera.

It was with every good intention to remember the camera that I set out yesterday on the journey.  I was looking forward to the photogenic possibilities the January morning offered;  foggy, misting, and overcast.  The perfect conditions to create a nice mood image of ancient buffalo on the timeless prairie.

And then one mile from the exit, as I began to anticipate the buffalo, it hit me;  no camera!  What a professorial idiot!  Already 25 miles distant from home, I knew I was missing the perfect opportunity but there was no turning back at this point.  All I have, once again, is a haunting iPhone camera remembrance of what might have been the next Twitter sensation.  As I pulled off to the side of the highway, zoomed my lowly iPhone to full magnification, and tried to capture the wary expression of the adult male bison who guarded the rest of the herd, I knew only that once again I had failed miserably, soon slinking away on my travels with only the memory of a perfect photograph lost.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I'm Dreaming....

...that Christmas was white this morning instead of the golden but ubiquitous brown of the
Kansas prairie in winter.  Our White Christmas came a week ago in the form of 5 inches of heavy wet snow that melted within a day of it's arrival.  However fleeting, it made for a glorious morning while it was present.  How I getting out onto the pristine earth after a snowfall; the feeling of solitude and rebirth in a hushed landscape.

The local winter drabness is mitigated when the dried remnants of Fall are reduced to abstract ornaments on a white canvas.  My front landscaping bed might abound with color and texture in early summer, but I would argue that there is no more visual interest at that time than seen in this photo from last week. Remnants of phlox and yellow twigs of euonymous and a golden vase of dried grass contrast exquisitely with the frozen green pot and dark green hollies.   The mad sniffing dog, Bella, can be seen at mid-right, one long soft ear flipped over her head while she tracks some small, helpless, and probably long-gone creature around the hollies and burning bushes.

Bella and I were happy about the snowfall, but, thank you Winter, that's enough.  Leave us now and bring Spring in your wake.  It's hard for a proud dog to track when most of the interesting scents are buried beneath new snow, and it is hard for the gardener to siphon energy from a frozen landscape.  Today, Christmas 2014, is bright and sunny here in Kansas, but not a creature or green leaf yet stirs from winter slumber.  And I in my jammies, and Mrs. ProfessorRoush cooking madly over the stove, will just have to wait, yet, through a long winter's nap.


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