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

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fire And Ice

As Old Man Winter eases onto New Mexico’s Southern Great Plains, weather spotters rush to make note of his flowing, frosted beard casually flung over the left shoulder. “Have goose bumps, will travel,” he chuckles, then puffs his cheeks and trumpets nippy flourishes to proclaim the imminent return of wintry mayhem. His coup de grâce is a large bag of polar air weighing down his right shoulder. He readies icicles and hoar frost in his left hip pocket.  While he slides southward, hints of airborne moisture turn into tentative snowflakes. They dance briefly in the brisk morning air and disappear.

Our hamlet prepares for the gelid pace of winter. Remnants of marigolds in back yard flower beds survive, albeit with crystalline decorations of hoarfrost. Consecutive three dog nights test the resilience of prairie flora and fauna. As Cooper and I head into the Llano Estacado, vaporous trails of my breath rouse memories of frosty childhood mornings and magical hoar frost caresses upon autumn landscapes.

The prairie takes the icy punch in stride and emphasizes its rusty autumn regalia in outright defiance of the Old Man’s onslaught. Swatches of Fetid Marigold skeletons highlight dried grasses with copper hues. Rabbit Tobacco with its sweet everlasting blooms and scattered crowns of ragwort pappi glow in the backlight of the morning sun. A shadow of its former self, a grasshopper sits motionless and awaits the warmth of the afternoon. In contrast, my canine alter ego Cooper makes nimble forays through cactus spikes and yucca daggers in pursuit of scent trails to burrows and hiding places of cottontails and jack rabbits. He insists on exercising his prairie buddies on frigid mornings. I opt for tranquility and take a breather in a thicket of Siberian Elms. Their last hurrahs of autumn color quicken my heart and stir my soul.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Fire And Ice

Catfoot Among Marigolds (Fragrant Cudweed)

Late Autumn Prairie

The Five Musketeers (Sand Yucca)

Shadow Of Its Former Self

Autumn Bouquet (Yucca, Snakeweed, Ragwort)

Prairie Rust Belt (Fetid Marigolds)

Siberian Caresses

Autumn Shadows

Last Hurrah (Siberian Elm)

Late Autumn Lane

Rabbit Tobacco (aka Sweet Everlasting, Old Field Balsam)

Lonesome Beauty (Ragwort pappi in Broom Snakeweed)

Fragrant Cudweed Pillow (pseudognafalium obtusifolium)

Witchgrass And Trompillo (panicum capillare, aka Ticklegrass)

Fetid Marigolds In Early Winter Regalia (Cooper)

Alter Ego

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Foggy Surrender

After seemingly endless days of scorching sun and torrid breath of Aeolus, the Llano Estacado plain willingly surrenders to the pulchritude foggy caresses bestow upon her denizens and flora. Wet sighs of relief fill the cool morning air.

The first blush of Autumn colors Siberian Elm stretching their scraggly foliage into the morning mists. In the tree tops a raven briefly complains of poor visibility, takes wing, and with nary a sound swiftly disappears into the billowing brume. I pause, take a deep breath, and scan the unusually intimate horizons created by the fog. Rich Autumn hues dominate. Hundreds of delicate dew catchers flush with ethereal pearls of water defy gravity. Their shimmering dances in defiance of somber airs warm the cockles of my heart. I delight in their ephemeral existence. The lustrous droplets are seductive windows into the boundless reaches of the universe. One touch and rivulets of infinity cover the palm of my hand.

While my thoughts turn inward, Cooper and his canine pals, Leona and Chewbacca, do not hesitate to strike out into the damp Autumn wonderland. The chilled air fuels their enthusiasm for a dew patrol. But, aside from surprising and rousting a few feathered prairie dwellers, they find wildlife conspicuously absent. The trio refuses to let an opportunity to roam the wilds go to waste. Mother Nature accommodates their desires for fun.The heavy dew and wet soil due to recent rains soon contribute to a joyful mud bath. Three happy pups return from our prairie sojourn.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Keep Dry (promachus bastardi, aka Robber Fly)
Foggy Surrender

Dew Patrol (Cooper)

Dew Catcher

First Blush Of Autumn (Siberian Elm)

Blue Grama Hoedown (bouteloua gracilis)

Prickly Dew Drops (cylindropuntia imbricata)

Dew Drop

Autumn Kaleidoscope

Robber Baron (promachus bastardi)

Waiting For The Sun

Little Bluestem (schyzachrium scoparium)

Sun Mimic

Wet Sighs

Who Spilled These Beans?

Defying Gravity

High Plains Tiger

What sublime poetry does flow
From every sinew, head to toe,
When keen nose, tiger’s eyes,
Conjure quarry ‘neath blue skies.

Shortgrass Prairie Patrol (Cooper)

High Plains Tiger (Cooper)

Steallth Mode (Cooper)

Scent Trail (Cooper)

Scout Master (Cooper)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Llano Amarillo

White Owl Woman stirs from her dog days slumber and whispers auguries of winter. Her cool breath borne on morning mists consoles vestiges of summer flora. She cajoles prairie denizens to prepare for the lean days ahead. Pockets of wildflowers and first hues of autumn belie her unpleasant forecast.

Far and wide yellow floral bouquets dominate the tapestry of shortgrass prairie straw, yucca, and cacti. A leisurely survey reveals slender spokes of Riddell’s Ragwort, grandiose faces of Annual Sunflowers, defiant stands of Wax Goldenweed blooms, jovial scrambles of False Boneset dreadlocks, thick mounds of Plains Zinnia, and delicate orbs of ripe Trompillo berries. Not to be outdone, Cane Cholla fruit are well on their way to late autumn stardom. Remnants of purple figs still adorn random Plains Prickly Pear cacti. They have nearly run their course as a ground-level smorgasbord for winged and four-legged nibblers.

Cooper and I ramble across the prairie just after sunrise. Nose to the wind, he answers the call of the wild with purposeful forays across the rough terrain. Along a winding game trail, we encounter an arid lands terrapin nimbly navigating obstacles. Cooper pauses and delivers a friendly nudge with his nose. After a short game of peek-a-boo, the Ornate Box Turtle retreats into its shell. We continue our sojourn.

My gait quickens into an exhilarating rhythm of breath and footsteps. The timeless allure of vast prairie expanses under a deep blue firmament invites my heart to sing and soul to take wing. For a brief moment the passage of time becomes irrelevant. I understand eternity.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Maestro (megacyllena robina, aka Locust Borer on Wax Goldenweed)

Comforts Of A Home On The Range (Mr Cooper)

Prickly Fig Smorgasbord (opuntia macrorhiza)

Whispers On The Wind (asclepias latifolia, aka Broadleaf Milkweed)

Say Hello To Autumn

Old Man Of The Plains (Wax Goldenweed)

Farewell Summer Days (helianthus annuus)

Ragwort Tussle (senecio riddellii)

Llano Amarillo

Contemplating The Equinox (Cooper)

Autumn Star (cylindropuntia imbricata, aka Cane Cholla)

Golden Spokes (Riddell's Ragwort)

Pink Sunshine (cirsium ochrocentrum, aka Yellowspine Thistle)

Buffalo Gourd And Blister Beetle Deli

On The Yellow Brick Road (epicauta pennsylvanica, aka Black Blister Beetle)

Kissing Cousins

Call Of The Wild (Cooper)

Shout For Joy (Cane Cholla fruit)

Hindsight (Cooper)

Auguries Of Winter

Monochrome Dreams

Senecio Serenade (Riddell's Ragwort)

Thinking Of Melanie (Cooper)

Ragwort Riddle (senecio riddellii)

False Boneset Dreadlocks

Pregnant Pause (yucca campestris)

Spurge Spokes (chamaesyce serpyllifolia ssp. hirtula, aka Hairy Thyme-Leaved Spurge)

Red-Winged Grasshopper

Aaah...Welcome To My World (Cooper)

Lost Fencepost

Pappi Symphony (grindelia papposa)

Disc Flower Florets (helianthus annuus)

Shake, Rattle, And Roll (yucca campestris seed pods)

Silk Merchant (Broadleaf Milkweed)

Purslane (portulaca oleracea, aka Verdolaga, Pusley, Little Hogweed)

Procesión De Farolitos (Lantern Parade)

Bleached Purple Threeawn

Bustin' At The Seams (Plains Yucca)

White Thistle (cirsium ochrocentrum, aka Yellow Spine Thistle)