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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Enchanted Repose

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

Enchanted Repose

Crystal Palace

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)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Let There Be Light

A week-long mid-winter respite marked by balmy 60˚F temperatures ends with an overnight incursion of arctic air. Once again, the Llano Estacado echoes with struggles of survival. The stories are brutal and beautiful. One constant remains, the short-grass prairie endures volleys of wind, blizzards, drought, torrential rains, and blistering summer heat well. Perennial patterns of light, color, and exotic shapes project her resilience. In death as in life she’s a kaleidoscope of aesthetic delight.
Cooper and I scramble into the Llano Estacado by mid-morning. I hunt elusive treasure troves of light playing dramatically across dried up flowers and grasses. Light has a way of turning arid tragedies into theatrical hits. The scene before me rivals spring and summer splendor. Cooper has games on his docket. He cruises the prairie in search of playmates. For the most part, the fauna on the High Plains of Eastern New Mexico still slumbers. Even prairie dogs fail to voice their objections to his presence. In the chilled morning air, discretion is the better part of valor. He settles for stalking pocket gophers in the prairie straw and finding skeletal reminders of struggles for survival.
As I amble across the frost-bound landscape, fearsome colmillos de dragón, ruffled pappi bursts, golden snakeweed choruses, star spangled ragwort domes, and burnt orange marigold husks join in a concerto of defiance--let there be light.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Pappus Burst (grindleia papposa, aka Wax Goldenweed)

Light Hunter (El Llanero Viejo)

Let There Be Light (cholla, yucca, and snakeweed)

Colmillos De Dragón ("Dragon's Fangs" solanum rostratum, aka Buffalo Bur)

Death On The Llano (rabbit skull)

Broom Snakeweed Chorus (gutierrezia sarothrae)

Short-Grass Prairie In Winter (Arrow Feather Three-awn)

Prairie Cruisin' (Cooper)

Thistle Winter Treasure

Marigold Husk Concerto

Star Spangled Ragwort (senecio flaccidus var douglasii)

Mid-Winter Respite

Friday, January 27, 2012

Spring In January

Another unusually warm January day stirs the prairie wilds and back yard gardens to life. Siberian Elms on the Llano Estacado plain show first signs of buds. Trees in village neighborhoods follow suit. Daffodils venture delicate blades of green shoots into the comfort of January sunlight. Last remnants of autumn foliage provide welcome hugs to the new arrivals. Austrian pines shed their winter decorations of bristly pine cones and Silver Maples sing serenades of spring renewal. At the town lake a noisy gathering of geese rejoices in the balmy mid-winter climes.

How might one lay to rest this glorious day? The words of the indomitable Bard of Avon echo in my heart, “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.”

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Welcome Hug

Silver Maple Serenade

Joyous Renewal

Austrian Pine Solo

Spring Mosaic

Noisy Gathering

"...That I shall say god night till it be morrow."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Parched Rhapsody

Late January and air temperatures approach a balmy sixty degrees Fahrenheit.  Sparse cloud formations drift across baby-blue skies. Long since sapped of life, seas of frayed prairie grasses dance to lively southeasterly winds. In the distance, a meadowlark atop a withered yucca stem sings harmony to the rhapsody of wind, winter sun, and parched prairie. The Northern Llano Estacado remains in drought. Rain and snow are obscure memories to ranchers and farmers. Their torment echoes across the tablelands. The prairie understands their suffering well. She suffers their fate, yet chooses to present her lifeless vegetation in awesome splendor. Her parched rhapsody inspires tenacity to endure and obliges light catchers to corral the beauty.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Parched Rhapsody (Plains Yucca)


Closed 'Till Spring (Cooper on harvester ant nest)

Dash Of Down

Dental Floss (grindelia papposa, aka Wax Goldenweed)

Prairie Dog Penthouse Views

Frayed Summer Dreams (bluestem grasses)

Plains Mêlée (yucca campestris)

Sunbath (Cooper)

Wax Goldenweed Winter (grindelia papposa)

Prairie Scout (Cooper)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Withered Pulchritude

She is weary of freezing nights followed by frosty mornings and the ravages winter winds unleash upon her slumbering expanse of red soil and endless grasslands. She thirsts for the gentle caress of morning mists and thunderous torrents of summer rain. She is steadfast in her vigil, yet accepts the fortuitous nature of rain on the Llano Estacado plain. While her existence is on hold, she finds comfort in the withered pulchritude of her glory days.
Cooper and I ease into her dominion near midday. The sun struggles to pierce a murky canopy of clouds. Winds sigh apologies for the fortnight of furies they brought to bear upon her fragile countenance. She holds no grudges.
Cooper disappears in the shaggy carpet of prairie grasses, cactus spikes, and yucca daggers. Primal urges compel the hunt. I engage the prairie on a spiritual and aesthetic level. She speaks in silence and when there are no more words to say her allure holds me spellbound for what seems an eternity.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Withered Pulchritude (senecio ampullaceous)

Baya De La Pradera ("prairie berries" solanum elaeagnifolium)

Amber Cache (yucca campestris)

Nadelkissen ("pincushion" cylindropuntia imbricata)

Rain Vigil (cylindropuntia imbricata)

Буфало Снове ("buffalo dreams" solanum rostratum)

Golden Brooms (gutierrezia sarothrae)

Prairie Skeletons

Blue Grama (bouteloua gracilis)

Après Les Années D'or ("after the golden years" grindelia papposa)

Sunshine On A Cloudy Day (guterriezia sarothrae)