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

Friday, June 22, 2012

State Of The Prairie Alliance

Lend an ear, open your heart,
Let your imagination follow,
Endless struggles, let's depart
On a tale of joy and sorrow.

Cooper and I tarry on the shortgrass prairie of Llano Estacado tablelands without provocation. Why? The wilds of the Great Plains biome rouse primal instincts in each of us. It stirs the wolf in Cooper and unfetters lost human connections to the natural world within me. In her unique manner, the prairie invites self-discovery and allows me to tap fathomless wells of artistic inspiration. Idyllic, you might proclaim, but ominous clouds at the Llano’s endless horizons threaten unwelcome change.

Two hundred years ago perpetual seas of grass on the plain still hosted countless Pronghorn Antelope and American Bison. The latter selectively cleared mile-wide swaths on unmarked byways into summer grazing grounds to the north. Today buffalo no longer wallow in the midday sun. With few exceptions, their guttural rumblings, snorts, and roars are sounds relegated to Western lore. In an interdependent ecosystem their silence is a deafening admonition.

So far, the merciless assault persists--urban sprawl, windblown trash and construction debris, destruction of countless playa lakes by agricultural pursuits, and depletion of ground water aquifers. Springs brought forth by the latter no longer gurgle precious lifeblood onto a thirsty plain.

A three-hundred-acre island of prairie flora and fauna east of our Southern High Plains hamlet is a microcosm of the continuing drama. It’s Cooper’s and my connection to primal prairie wilds. Let’s rewind to three years ago. One unobtrusive ranch road cut across this prairie’s bosom of red earth, sage, and wild flowers. Now five off-road vehicle trails carve ruts into the delicate balance of this ancient landscape.

One thousand days of prairie sojourns into the enchanted seas of wind-swept grasses, wild flower galleries, cactus spikes, and breathtaking encounters with multitudes of winged, legged, and slithering denizens have left me fulfilled, yet wanting. Wanting activity in the Black-tailed Prairie Dog ghost town. I miss the unique call signs and alerts they ascribed to Cooper and me. I miss the young taking their first excursions into the light of day and wonders of the prairie. When this keystone species disappeared a year ago so did Burrowing Owls, nesting pairs of Swainson and Ferruginous Hawks, and a secretive Swift Fox. The formerly trimmed grounds and approaches to prairie dog town already show signs of reclamation by yucca, cacti, Broom Snakeweed, and native grasses. I fear serious consequences to wildlife habitat and diversity of interdependent species should the Black-tailed Prairie Dog go the way of the American Bison.

In the near term, the outlook for reptilian vertebrates and some amphibians is not as dire. Bullsnakes, Desert King Snakes, Ornate Box Turtles, Horned Lizards, and Great Plains Toads abound. It’s heartening and bespeaks their resilience when I find individuals in all stages of maturity. Insect life, especially the ubiquitous Harvester Ant shows no signs of impact by intrusions of civilization into their habitat.

How does one achieve balance between the needs of mankind, fragile environs, and finite resources?

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Serpent Encounter (pituophis catenifer sayi, aka Bullsnake)

Heart And Soul (Plains Yellow Primrose)

Give Ear, Heed The Whispers On The Wind (phrynosoma cornutum, aka Horned Lizard)

Sundance On A Cloudy Day (gaillardia pulchella)

Let Your Imagination Follow

Wheels Of Fortune (Cane Cholla)

Open Your Heart (zinnia grandiflora)

Run Little Buddy, Run (Cooper urges Horned Lizard)

Wired For Survival (stephanomeria pauciflora, aka Wire Lettuce)

Pink Sanctum (cylindropuntia imbricata)

My Heart Is An Open Book (opuntia engelmannia)

Tale Of Joy And Sorrow (cynomys ludovicianus, aka Black-tailed Prairie Dog)

Prairie Dog Ghost Town

Monday, June 18, 2012

Heavenly Tears

The Llano Estacado relishes her on-again, off-again relationship with fickle summer thunderstorms. In their aftermath remnants of vegetation skeletons and straw transform into treasure troves of enchantment. Heavenly tears linger on and bring solace to drought-ravaged flora. The translucent pearls highlight the collective chorus of joy rising on misty aromas of sage.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Heavenly Tears

Trompillo Serenade (solanum elaeagnifolium, aka Purple Nightshade)

Silver Kowtows (bothriochloa saccharoides, aka Silver Bluestem)

Fire And Ice (gaillardia pulchella and monarda pectinata)

Beebalm Raincatcher (monarda pectinata)

Neon Mayhem (yucca campestris)

Prairie Treasures (Siverleaf Nightshade)

Purple On Gold (Purple Nightshade)

Morning After The Wet Stuff (Cooper)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Alluvial Dreams

Her dusty countenance craves muddy streams, 
Stormy caresses and her lover’s sodden touch.
She surrenders willingly amidst alluvial dreams
Awash in playful artistry of sand, clay and such.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Alluvial Dreams

Playful Artistry

Willing Surrender

Muddy Stream

Sodden Touch (Fetid Marigold)

Sand, Clay, And Such

Stormy Caress