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

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring Airs

Come, gentle spring, come!
Come wrap the Earth in poetry of light.
Your first blush of life sighs welcome
And severs bonds of sinter with delight.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Spring Is In The Air

Pear Bud Floret

Wild Mustard Splash

Arborvitae Surprise

Budding Sunset

Prairie Incubator

Extraordinary beauty of marvelous design, intriguing purpose, and very amazing functionality. The hardened shell of a Praying Mantis ootheca evokes images of trilobite fossils. With spring in the air, I frequent such a mantis egg case attached to an old surveyor’s stake on the Llano Estacado--an autumn discovery. It faces east toward the rising sun and leeward of prevailing winds. I surmise the positioning has advantages.
In autumn a female mantis of the insect order mantodea lays between 10 and 400 eggs into a frothy mass secreted from glands in her abdomen. The protein foam hardens into a ribbed, protective capsule called an ootheca. Each rib of the honey-colored capsule has egg compartments. The mantis deposits the ribs in successive layers over several hours. The finished structure is about an inch-and-a-half long by half inch wide. Females attach ootheca to flat surfaces such as walls, fences, and house eaves; or to undersides of leaves, on twigs, and close to the ground on plant stalks. To protect the eggs against predators, such as parasitic wasps, they place the exquisite egg cases where they are difficult to see and are sheltered from winter weather. Her work is artistry. Her life cycle complete, she will die with the first hard freeze.
The controlled environment of the ootheca protects and hatches mantodea eggs within the layered compartments. Each cubbyhole has small one-way valve-like structures to help the insects hatch with minimum effort. Come spring the nymphs burst out like an army of ants. They are predators and immediately attack leafhoppers, aphids, small flies and grasshoppers. Their voracious appetite also leads them to cannibalize each other when suitable prey is not available. The likely genus and species of our mantid is stagmomantis carolina--Carolina Mantis. Their range is from the East Coast west to the Rocky Mountain States and south into Mexico.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Mantis Ootheca

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Wild Burro Hacienda

Warm spring breezes awaken wanderlust. Puffs of prairie breath hitch rides on sun rays and condense into cotton fields of clouds. They drift sleepily across azure skies. Cooper and I head out to the Running Water Draw roughly ten miles north of town. Once afoot, we pause at a nearly dry water hole stuffed with tumbleweeds. A distant bray by semi-feral burros alerts Cooper. Several equus asinus top the rise behind us and beat hooves our way. I cannot resist a chuckle and dub their rhythmic gait the Llano two-step. They are part of a small herd roaming the Wild Burro Hacienda grounds at Ned Houk Park. The advance halts in front of Cooper and me. I try to read the intentions within the inquisitive eyes of our beholders. They come in peace.
Donkeys arose in Africa and have interacted with mankind for more than 5000 years. The first asses in the Americas arrive with Spanish explorers and missionaries. Some escape and become feral herds. Wild asses in the North American Southwest bear the Spanish moniker burro. They are tenacious survivors and even adapt to harsh desert lands. They compete successfully for limited water sources, often to the detriment of native mammals. When forage is slim burros live separated from each other, unlike wild horses. Donkeys use very loud vocalizations to keep in contact. Their unique brays of EE-Aw, EE-Aw easily carry several kilometers. Asses have larger ears than horses, which aside from improved hearing have a role in cooling their blood. The mane is stiff and upright and their tails are cow-like with a tasseled switch. Wild burros defend themselves with powerful kicks of their hind legs, bites, and strikes with their front hooves. Our presence soon tires the wild bunch and they depart with the traditional farewell of their ancestors, “¡Adiós amigos!”
Blue skies beckon and I get sidetracked by the late-winter solitude of Ned Houk Park, just down the road. Afternoon shadows caress the golden hues of dried grasses. They compose poetry of light. Their joyous refrains proclaims victory over winter and welcome spring.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Eye Of The Beholder

Wild Burro Hacienda

Llano Two-Step

Me And My Shadow (equus asinus)

Prairie Waterhole

Longhorn Disguise

Sister Sky

Wild Burro (equus asinus)

Adiós Amigos

Late Winter Solitude (Ned Houk Park)

Afternoon Shadows

Poetry Of Light


Ready For Spring

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pearls Of Wisdom

Knowledge and wisdom are intimate companions--twin pearls dancing on the fabric of our intellect. One cannot exist without the other. They influence our perception of the world, our spirituality, our poetic utterances. They define our capacity to grasp what is of value in life. Include a measure of passion in pursuit thereof and humanity triumphs.
Where might one come upon a well of enlightenment and savor the mythical mead of poetry? I start my quest with a glance out the front window of our abode. Gray skies belie the profound light of two shimmering pearls of water balancing precipitously on a young tulip leaf. Each holds the essence of snowflakes at the end of their tumultuous sojourn. They yearn for balance. Humility will realize their purpose. A fleeting burst of sunlight illuminates their charitable surrender of life forces to their brethren, the tulip. Once brought to light, pearls of wisdom are akin to universal truths. They are eternal.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Pearls Of Wisdom

Humble Companions

Sweet Surrender

Dew Drop Inn (Cane Cholla)

Sunlight Tango

Big Foot Realm

To Be A Bird (Cooper)

Left Eye Dominant (Cooper)

Cold Toes

Reach For The Sky

Innocence Of Youth (pear bud)

Wall Flower

Close Friends (Austrian Pine)

Warm Fuzzy

First Impressions

Fleeting Footsteps

Cottonball Hugs

Sublime Rhapsody

Friday, February 17, 2012

Prairie Calligraphy

It’s Valentine’ Day and thoughts of love and amorous deeds fill every fiber of my being. But then, reality, that cruel mistress brings her insidious pangs to bear upon my heart. The love of my life is away from home. I take a few moments and reflect on our journey. It’s a good thing time is a pliable fabric. It folds upon itself endlessly and often blurs distinctions between beginnings and endpoints. Be still my heart and look for solace among indelible memories of tenderness and affection.

Once Cooper and I head into the Llano Estacado the prairie rolls out a welcome mat of cool temperatures, light Westerly winds, and partly cloudy skies. With the exception a few drift residues, the light snows of the last two days have melted or evaporated. What remains pens poetry with intricate strokes akin to calligraphy. Curly blades of grass wriggle under straight, upright blue stem grasses. The textures, shapes, and colors inspire wonder. However, useful water for the parched prairie is minimal. The moisture is barely enough to form tiny mud pellets in the surface dust of the Llano. The inviting beauty echoes with empty promises.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Prairie Calligraphy (yucca with blue stem and marigold straw)

Snow On Purple Threeawn Gold

Winter Bubble Bath

Empty Promises

Monday, February 13, 2012

Air Hoar And Snow Melt Poetry

Our 56°F afternoon heatwave feels incredibly pleasant in light of yesterday’s ashen skies and 26°F daytime deep freeze. Let’s backtrack for a few minutes to Cooper’s and my early morning prairie escapades in 26°F temperatures. The enticing blue canopy stretched from horizon to horizon belies the discomfort of wind chills borne on vigorous westerly winds. We look to the sun for warmth and realize the dazzling orb wanting in expected comfort.
Cooper and I slip into the prairie with eager anticipation of snowy exploits. In the blink of an eye my displeasure with winter chills gives way to a state of enchantment. The prairie abounds with a gathering of white-haired prairie elders. The splendor of their silvery manes invites kinship with prairie mysteries. I oblige willingly. Hushed discourse about their razzle-dazzle locks turns into a passionate celebration of air hoar allure and artistry. Within the hour the fleeting glitz of hoarfrost blooms bows to the sun’s zeal. 
We continue our traverse of the sparse snow cover. As air temperatures rise, glimpses of a quickening prairie heart beat emerge. The snow blanket of our recent arctic blast surrenders its precious liquid to the moisture-starved soil. Snow melt activates ankle-deep mud creating red dirt spurs in the snow. Images of weaving river delta channels come to mind. The golden elegance of prairie berries adds splashes of color. Broom Snakeweed in winter trappings parades among residual snow cover. A Northern Harrier flies purposeful hunting patterns.  At times the raptor seems to tag-team with Cooper. He expects to surprise prey Cooper rousts. As I thread my way down game trails, I unexpectedly come across a Western Harvest Mouse. What is this tiny critter doing out on the snow? Hastily I fumble my camera into shooting position. The mouse disappears in bunch grasses. I settle for a photo of its tracks. 
I turn homeward, exhilarated by my communion on the wild side with replenished reserves of sustenance for heart and soul. Prairie poetry never fails to inspire.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Air Hoar Artistry

Looking For The Sun (Cooper)

Patch Of Icy Blue

Hoarfrost Bloom

Frosty Allure

Golden Elegance (Silver Leaf Nightshade)

Wily Trail Master (Cooper)

Siberian Elm Invitation

Western Harvest Mouse Excursion

Red Dirt River Delta

Precious Snow Melt

What's The Story?

Prairie Berry Cluster

Broom Snakeweed Snow Parade

Llano Chieftain (Cooper)