Local weather prognosticators conspire to break the three-digit temperature record set in 1922. It would be a fitting finale for a summer of scorching heat and limited rainfall. I pray they are wrong.
Cooper and I head into the prairie in 70°F temperatures tempered by brisk southwesterly winds. My expectations of signature images materialize very early into our trek. Metallic shimmers of countless dragonfly wings light up the prairie. The aerial acrobats perch on tips of yucca skeletons in pre-flight warmup mode. I pause to savor the moment. Cooper dances and pounces through the dry stalks of Silver Bluestem grasses. He is content to flush and chase speedy lizards.
We push on and discover a treasure trove of activity. Harvester Ants wrestle with dried grass stalks piled near the nest entrance. The haphazard scattering of straws reminds me of a game of pick-up-sticks. Blue-fringed Ground Beetles scamper across dry vegetation and stop sporadically to devour Red Harvester Ants. A Bullsnake objects to our approach with glottal rattles and nasty hisses. We hold up until it moves into cover. Pocket Gophers push crescent-shaped mounds of cool, dark soil into the sunlight. And against azure canopy of New Mexico skies a wake of Turkey Vultures rides air currents in their daily grind of sanitation chores. Black-tailed Prairie Dogs remain conspicuously absent. I fear they are casualties of the persistent drought.
Our sojourn includes several mandatory respites in the sparse shade of lonesome Siberian Elms struggling to survive the arid year. On the bright side, recent rains have started an eruption of colorful flora. Their persistence to flower amazes me. My spirit soars at the sight of their beauty and nudges my heart into jubilant melodies.
© Ilija Lukić 2011
© Ilija Lukić 2011
|Bushel Of Prairie Primrosa|
(desmanthus leptolobus, aka Prairie Bundleflower)
|Змије На Мом Уму (Snakes On My Mind)|
|Morning Round Of Pick-Up-Sticks|
(solanum elaeagnifolium, aka White Horsenettle)
|Larger Than Life (Cooper)|
(haplopappus ciliatus, aka Sawtooth Daisy)
(haplopappus ciliatus, aka Wax Goldenweed)
|Silverleaf Nightshade Patrol (Cooper)|
|Devil's Thorn - Cooper's Nemesis|
(tribulus terrestris, aka Puncturevive, Bullhead)
|Shady Respite (Cooper)|
|On the Prowl|
(libellula pulchella, aka Twelve-Spotted Skimmer)