Cooper and I head into the sea of grass east of our settlement. Stiff westerly winds hurry us along and heighten our expectations of adventure. The deep blue canopy of New Mexico sky and warm sun promise a pleasant morning of exploration on the short-grass prairie of the Llano Estacado.
A menagerie of wild birds awaits and does not disappoint: Mourning Doves take to the air with whistling flutters of wings; sparrows rouse the sleeping prairie with boisterous rampages through sunflower skeletons; a Northern Harrier sails leisurely a few feet above prairie dog town prepared to strike; a Swainson’s Hawk circles majestically overhead; Western Meadow Larks provide musical entertainment; and my favorite, Barn Swallows fly the gauntlet of yucca stalks...pause briefly above us...chatter a friendly hello...and are off in pursuit of their morning insect quarry.
Reality soon shatters the serenity of our excursion. Off-road enthusiasts frequent some of the trails we hike. Predictably the prairie flora and fauna suffer insult, injury, and death. Among the casualties are a juvenile Bullsnake, a Western Harvester Mouse and a Texas Horned Lizard. I shed a silent tear.
We turn homeward when the stiff morning breeze turns into a blustery 40+ mph trail sweeper. The blue skies don a dusty grey veil and grit covers my tongue and teeth. My pace becomes a stagger against the fury of Aeolus while plastic trash bag banderas flutter noisily from dry Plains Yucca stalks.
© Ilija Lukić 2011
|Play Nice Kids (Fringed Puccoon)|
|Red Stem Filaree Trail|
|Wet Trumpet Section (Plains Stoneseed)|
|Courting The Sun (filaree and primrose)|
|Filaree Cowboy (Ilija)|
|High Plains Scout (Cooper)|
|Shady Rest Stop (Cooper)|
|The Wisdom Of Surgeons (Flixweed)|