Let your heart be a portal for the songs of the universe.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Splash Of Rain

Two nights ago a slow moving line of thunderstorms splattered its liquid treasure onto the arid plains of the Llano Estacado. Flora and fauna hesitate to respond on a broad scale. The dearth of rain over the last year trumps brief episodes of the wet stuff. Within a day, mud puddles on ranch roads turn into slippery, red sludge. Occasionally Cooper leaves his signature in the goo. Fortunately his forays into the prairie straw quickly brush away the mud caked to his paws.

Resurgence of insects tops the revival list of prairie life. A young spider wasp aka Tarantula Hawk in search of nectar parades its rust-colored wings across the light green flower umbels of a Broadleaf Milkweed. Winged alates of Red Harvester Ants search for mates. The army of ants seems particularly aggressive in the presence of alates. They swarm across my shoes as I pause for a close-up image of the virgin queens.

© Ilija Lukić 2011

Tarantula Hawk On Milkweed

Winged Queens

Pink Hemisphere

Esqueletos De Oro (Cooper)

Red Sludge

Searching For Jack...Rabbit (Cooper)

Four Lives Of A Thistle

Golden Spines

Green Prairie Cone Flower

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wild At Heart

Rain is the Llano Estacado’s unpredictable lover. He prefers torrential affairs over gentle caresses. He is wild at heart. He fancies night visits. He arrives on wind-driven chariots, hurls lightning bolts to garner attention and expects thunderous applause for his wet embraces. Rain is also a poet, whose silvered fingers etch elegant poetry into his lover's red skin.

© Ilija Lukić 2011

Elegant Caresses

Wild At Heart

Honoring Nicolas Bautista Monardes

Taking The High Road (Cooper)

Blue Kisses

Alluvial Ribcage

Chocolate Delight

Life After The Flood

Look, But Don't Touch

Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Kaleidoscope

Our forecast high temperature of 106° F will exceed the 104°F record set in 1953. The next several days will follow suit. The Northern Llano Estacado will be the anvil of the sun. Our average for this time of year is 90°F. Thankfully, nighttime temperatures still retreat into the 60s. Extreme drought conditions persist. Rain is the stuff of dreams.

Cooper and I cannot resist a morning outing on the prairie. Except for an occasional bird and limited ant activity, the Llano lies motionless and silent. A timid southwesterly breeze makes the 75°F air a pleasant sensation. We encounter Scout, Seiko, and their human Paddie. The Malamutes clearly long for High Plains winter weather. The three canine pals romp with diminished gusto. Several water stops quench thirsts. All five Llano trekkers agree, the remainder of our fourteen-and-a-half hours of daylight will transpire in air conditioned comfort.  

Daytime conditions which limit outdoor activities do inspire retrospection. I dig into Llano Estacado history and find an interesting footnote. On July 7th our settlement, Clovis, will mark the 82nd anniversary of having served as one of ten refueling stops for coast-to-coast air service on a route laid by Charles Lindbergh.

© Ilija Lukić 2011

Paper Flower

Silver Leaf Nightshade

Tree Cholla Rose

Against The Flow (Cooper)

Chainlink Flower Buds

Cholla Sunrise (Cooper)

Labors Of Hercules

Lonestar Blueweed

Love Bites

Prairie Ink Wells

Silver Bluestem In Horsemint

Sunflower Wheel

Tangled Milkweed

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Echoes

The golden hues of parched prairie flora come to life for a few precious moments in the warm embraces of morning sun. Metaphors invade my thoughts as teased hairdos of dried-out snakeweed shrubs echo chorus lines from 1960s musicals—let the sunshine in. Prickly pear cacti spar with intruders of their realm reminiscent of musketeers in the service of their queen—en garde, mes amis!  At the next turn, a chainlink cactus stretches sparkling crowns of plagiotropic stems into the blue New Mexico firmament—ready for magenta cactus roses. Next to a cattle trail ants complete a Roman mosaic of pebbles excavated from their nest, while a silver-haired medicine woman nestled within a sand sage oasis whispers of her healing powers. Wherever I stop I find  botanical sun catchers harvesting the gentle first blush of sunlight.

Cooper roams the prairie straw.

Back to the medicine woman, artemisia filifolia, aka Sand Sage, Silvery Wormwood, and Silver Sagebrush. Her embodiment is a pleasantly aromatic perennial shrub of the Southwest. Native populations such as the Hopi, Kiowa, Navajo, and Tewa have used its medicinal qualities to treat various ailments for more than 2,000 years. Its chemical makeup includes the aromatic oils of camphor and eucalyptol.

© Ilija Lukić 2011
Summer Echoes

En Garde, Mes Amis!

Plagiotropic Crowns

Ant Mosaic

Sand Sage Oasis

Medicine Woman

Silvery Wormwood

Sun Catcher

In The Straw (Cooper)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Memories Of Paradise

My forty-foot shadow races races down a red dirt ranch road towards the pale remnants of the setting moon in the western sky. Both bespeak the early hour of yet another day on the prairie. The dry 60°F morning air evaporates the last drops of sweat on my brow within minutes of slowing my pace to a walk.  

Our record drought conditions deepen with every sunrise. Predicted 100°F temperatures bode misery for prairie flora and fauna. Harvester ant scouts leave their nests ready to select the day’s treasures. The silence of Western Meadow Larks and absence of Burrowing Owls suggest meager food resources. A one hundred square yard subdivision of Prairie Dog Town lacks lookouts barking their warning cries.

Cooper and I pause briefly in the shade of and elm to absorb the essence of the wild. The prairie whispers, don’t despair my human friend...been there...done that...got the scars to prove it. Until the rains come, I am content to live with memories of paradise.

© Ilija Lukić 2011

Standing Tall

Beebalm In The Shade


Delicate Temptation

Eyes To The World

Hello World

Kansas Thistle

Light Socket Effect

Mexican Hat Troupe

Rise And Shine

Triple Threat

Up, Up And Away