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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

You Light Up My Life

The prospect of free-spirited travel down a ranch road off the beaten path lures Cooper and me into the early winter prairie. Brisk northerly winds indulge sensations I longed for in the heat of summer sojourns. Goosebumps rush down my spine. I purposely keep hands exposed to the biting cold. Mountaineering lore encourages several days of such exposure to help reset my body thermostat to better cope with the penetrating chills of Llano Estacado winters.  

Brief introspection grabs a hold of my soul. I muse, “farewell, summer prairie...your songs have ended, but your melodies remain etched upon my heart. We shall dance again. You light up my life. Your resilient denizens will weather the numbing onslaughts and chaos of winter. You and they will persevere. Your secret is patience.”

The song of a Western Meadowlark nudges me back into the here and now. We press ahead. Before long Cooper’s confidant lope through ruts and down ranch road hardpan turns into awkward three-legged hops. He stops and chews at his left front paw and dislodges a wicked Goat Head burr. The painful scene repeats several times, until we depart the thorny gauntlet at a game trail. Nose to the wind, Cooper sights along airborne scent paths and slips into the shoulder high prairie straw. Catlike, he stalks an unknown creature, one careful step at a time. I surmise he pursues a Western Harvest Mouse or Pocket Gopher. The latter have been particularly active excavating and pushing crescent-shaped dirt mounds into the autumn landscape.

In defiance of cold nights and cool days, life on the High Plains of Eastern New Mexico continues. Overnight freezes sap life out of flora, yet a lone Western Pygmy-Blue butterfly finds repast among the nectar of a late-flowering ragwort. Patches of False Boneset pappi resemble night sky galaxies and star clusters. They light up the prairie.  A bronze autumn cast now covers the golden petals of Rocky Mountain Zinnia. Feisty prairie royalty such as Yellow-Spined Thistles sport gray heads as they take final, albeit regal bows. Amber bowels of empty Plains Yucca seed caches reminisce of their glory days as Lámparas De Dios. Spine-chocked Cane Cholla candelabras, adorned by the warm hues of sunrise, compete for the attention of precious autumn daylight. And, the freeze-dried glow of Fetid Marigold lanterns punctuates the cool serenity with a crescendo of warm, liquid copper hues.  

The door to summer closes reluctantly.

© Ilija Lukić 2011

You Light Up My Life
(dyssodia papposa aka Fetid Marigold)

Basking In The Morning Light

Cholla Candelabras
(cylindropuntia imbricata aka Cane Cholla)

Strong Verticals

Snakeweed Gauntlet - Cooper
(gutierezzia sarothrae aka Broom Snakeweed)

Prairie Lanterns
(dyssodia papposa aka Fetid Marigold)

Fading Glory
(zinnia grandiflora aka Prairie Zinnia

Western Pygmy-Blue Butterfly
(brephidium exile)

Pappi And Sepal Galaxy
(brickellia eupatorioides aka False Boneset)

Lámparas De Dios

Farewell Sweet Prince

Yucca Flats Star Clusters

Witchgrass Epilog
(panicum capillare)


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