Orographic lift condenses the warmer air mass of the Canadian River plain into dark, blue-gray clouds above the Northern Llano Estacado breaks. Northwesterly winds shear and push ominous layers in our direction. Below the drama across the horizon, another austere winter night on the prairie relents to gentler daytime temperatures. The morning sun seeks out crystal palaces of light frost clinging to grass straws nestled in draws and low-lying areas of the tablelands. Every sunrise chronicles another victory in nature’s relentless march towards spring. In the struggle for survival nothing is permanent. Winter always turns into spring. While the miracle of a single flower still endures within the bosom of Mother Earth, the prairie continues its incredible parade of winter survivors.
Cooper and I venture into the nippy morning. Within minutes of walking into the prairie, I regret yesterday’s untimely clipping of my winter beard. However, the momentary discomfort quickly turns to a rush of delight. The cold caress of the north wind inspires high spirits. I saunter through white-tipped Eriogonum straw, puzzle over green mats of Red Stem Filaree, allow my soul to absorb the grand winter finery of Cane Cholla tuna, lament the bones of a fleet-footed prairie denizen, wallow in Buffalo Grass, admire the impressive last gasp of a Plains Yucca, and invite Witch Grass to tickle my outstretched hand. My hour in the prairie is an eternity of enchantment.
© Ilija Lukić 2012
© Ilija Lukić 2012
|Winter Finery (Cane Cholla tuna)|
|Tic Tac Toe (Siberian Elm)|
|Bewitched (panicum capillare, aka Witch Grass)|
|Yucca Duet (yucca campestris)|
|Prairie Puzzle (erodium cicutarium)|
|Once Upon A Cotton Tale (sylvilagus nuttallii or audubonii)|
|Taking A Breather (Cooper)|
|Sun Spots (helianthus annuus, aka Annual Sun Flower)|
|Last Gasp (yucca campestris)|
|A Walk In Eriogonum Straw|
|Caliche Rocks In Buffalo Grass|
|37°F Morning (Cooper)|