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Beautiful North Dakota

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Every time I go to the prairie, I remember that my Australopithecine ancestors evolved on the open savannah. I feel at peace here. Not much on closed-in landscapes. The open ones, more better.

I watch the open spaces, the sun and wind, make their mark on my fellow birders as we collapse one by one in the grass. The Lizard Effect, brought about by early mornings grading into warm noons. It helps people relax when their guides flop down in the grass at the least opportunity. That's the Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival in a nutshell.

How can you stay tense and uptight with vistas like these?

 Even the barns are lying down.

and on this warm June day the cattle are taking their bafs.

A coyote prowls, hoping to start up a jackrabbit, as the wind makes whitecaps on a flooded valley. (Those are pelicans behind him).

We visit our favorite farmstead with a grand old barn who is not yet ready to lie down. Nitrophilous lichen paints its roof a delicious cinnabar.

Overhead the odd, insectivorous little Franklin's gulls, a vanishing specialty of the prairie, wheel and cry.

We look through the empty eye of a small house

and climb to a rocky outcrop that's never seen a plow

where the locoweed blooms in rose and purple

and the little white daisy with no name nods 

and the rocks are so old and weathered you know they've been here since well before there were hide tipis studding the place

but the same flowers bloom that the Sioux saw

  and we are thankful to be here to see them, too.

Can you hear the prairie calling you?

Potholes and Prairies 2012. June 14-18. Be there.


Oh, Julie. You are making me lonesome for those vistas. Wish I could go again this year. The wind and those vistas made my heart sing too.

Thanks to you, Julie, I can hear the prairie calling me.

Gorgeous photos. The sky is incredible.

Great post, Jules. This year will be a great one to be there.

You pull me in with your wonderful words and story. Beautiful!

Waiting in SOUTH Dakota too for the return of the prairie wildflowers. I think your nameless daisy is one of the fleabanes, love the locoweed and the geum triflorum, otherwise known as prairie smoke, or old man's whiskers.

Thanks, Caroline! I had originally called it a fleabane but changed my mind as it was so wooly. But maybe fleabane needs to be wooly way out there.

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