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

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ode To A Drought

Our 100-degree days linger. The once lush prairie grasses have turned to straw.  Ephemeral islands of greenery and the hardiest of wildflowers cling to life. Except for the hours just after sunrise, prairie wildlife avoids the anvil of the sun. An eerie quiet hangs over the Llano Plain.

Lone hawk soars, hark, meadow lark sings,
And swallows skim silver sage on swift wings.
Wildflowers splash color, defy the drought,
The chatter in burrows is of courage, not doubt.
Prairie beasts languish, uncertain their fates,
Dead cattle bode ranches with closed gates.
Green meadows, dew, a running water draw,
The stuff of dreams, entombed in prairie straw.
Ranchers, farmers bow heads on bent knees,
Entreat the Almighty for storms, a cool breeze;
To wet furrows of corn and sorghum with rain,
And ease the sun’s grip and dust on the plain.
The Staked Plain dances to a familiar tune,
Yearns for hit-or-miss rains, craves their boon.
Lest one forgets, thunderstorms do surprise,
Their torrents quench dearth, arouse paradise.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Scurfy Pea (psoralidium tenuiflorum)

Hope Springs Eternal (Yellowspine Thistle)

Ghost Of Groucho Marx (bouteloua gracilis, Blue Grama)

Ready To Bloom (dieteria canescens, aka Hoary Tansyaster)

Elegant Hostess (Western Honey Bee on Engelmann's Daisy)

Sunflower Head Clipping Weevil (haplorhynchites aeneus)

 Desert Straw (stephanomeria pauciflora, aka Wire Lettuce)

Spiny Golden Aster (haplopappus spinulosus)

Ode To A Drought (tribulus terrestris, aka Puncturevine)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Man In The Moon

In the wilds east of our high plains hamlet a drawn-out coyote howl rises into the starry night. A waxing gibbous moon with its spectacular hump-backed shape, clearly visible lunar seas, and surface areas pockmarked with craters lights up the prairie panorama. After an unassuming ascension in the eastern sky just after midday, the luminous nightlight inspires awe, poetry, and quests to understand its mysteries.

For a few moments I soak up its soothing glow and give in to childhood fantasies of the man in the moon. The Mare Serenitatis forms his head and Mare Tranquilitaris his torso. The lunar maria Nectaris and Fecunditatis shape his legs. With a small dog at his side and entertained by mankind’s never-ending follies, he is content to circle the Earth forever and a day.

Near the lower bay of the Sea of Tranquility are three indistinct craters named for the Apollo 11 astronauts Aldrin, Collins, and Armstrong. They touched down on the lunar surface the twentieth of July in 1969 during a five-day-old waxing crescent moon phase, which gave them the best shadow details for a landing. They had twenty seconds of fuel left. This is where Armstrong stepped off their landing craft, the Eagle, on July 21, 1969 and uttered the fabled words, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” In the hours ahead he and Aldrin became the first men to leave their footprints on the lunar surface.

Tonight’s gibbous moon against the star-filled canopy of night skies arouses memories of July 20, 1969. Once again I find myself with friends in a campground in Brindisi, Italy. While we wait for a morning ferry crossing to Greece, several British campers invite us to share the historic event over a small transistor radio. We stand awestruck and gaze at the crescent moon. Mankind’s most cherished treasures are our visions and dreams--the realm where soul and mind intersect, where we define our humanity.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Man In The Moon - July 28, 2012

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Midsummer Fantasies

Cotton candy clouds on azure canopy
Cede sky realms to golden veils ablaze.
Farewell daylight on wings of fantasy,
Prevail on moonbeam dances to amaze.

Daylight finds Cooper and me afoot in morning mists. Remnants of thunderstorms form a gray facade across the eastern horizon. They delay the fury of the mid-summer sun. Her pearly disk makes fleeting appearances in the brume amid dark wisps of vapor racing across her feeble countenance.

We advance into the damp prairie. Where days ago the curled and blistered surfaces of ephemeral mud flows crunched underfoot akin to cornflakes, reflecting pools of water affirm the saving graces of summer rains. Where days ago the sweet scent of fresh cut hay on the wind invited escapades of youthful tomfoolery, aromas of sage and soil sway heart and soul to introspection.

Here and there along our trail stray rain showers breach their ethereal confinement. They long for the earth’s embrace. They long to tap dance on my straw hat, form rivulets, and ooze off the cocked brim. I long for the exhilarating sensation of summer rain on my skin. The brief downpours saturate my clothing and Cooper’s coat. Invigorated we make leisurely headway.

Moments wax minutes, then an hour. The sun slips her vaporous fetters and reclaims her celestial dominion above the field of dreams stretched before us. In the aftermath of the amazing grace rains bestow upon the parched prairie, wildlife resumes pursuits of survival and vegetation rejuvenates. Ribbons of water on red dirt ranch roads become reflecting pools and the single, delicate blossom on a Puncturevine becomes a rose.

I pause and allow the lessons of the Llano Estacado environs to reach into my heart. Days passed and those ahead touch in a flash of enlightenment. I conclude another chapter in the never ending saga of understanding the wild. As Cooper and I head homeward, we tread lightly and leave only the footprints of our shadows upon the face of the fragile prairie ecosystem.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Field Of Dreams (monarda pectinata, aka Pony Beebalm
Divine Proportions (1.61803399 the Golden Ratio, aka helianthus annuus)
Broadleaf Milkweed (asclepias latifolia)

Passion In Blue (commelina erecta)

A Rose By Any Other Name (tribulus terrestris, aka Goat Head, Puncturevine)

Amazing Grace

Sporobolus Heterolepis (aka Prairie Dropseed)

Sawtooth Daisy Loop Patrol (Cooper)

Twin Cronies (yucca campestris)

Sun Burst

Sister To The Sun (helianthus annuus, aka Common Sunflower)

Don't Tread On Me (Bullsnake)

Yellow Hymenopappus Feast

Gaillardia Refrain

Broad Leaf Sun Shelter (asclepias latifolia)

Stealth Mode (pituphis catenifer sayi)

Pollen Collector (Bush Morning Glory)

Serpent In Eden (Bullsnake)

High Wire Act (Metallic Green Sweat Bee)

Reflecting Pool

Artful Wanderer (pituophis catenifer sayi, aka Bullsnake)

Bottlebrush Squirreltail (elymus elymoides)


Tread Lightly (Cooper and El Llanero)

Yellow Sweet Clover

Stranglehold (Desert Kingsnake)

Texas Blueweed

Texas Horned Lizard (phrynosoma cornutum)

Mexican Hat Dance (ratibida columnifera, aka Long-head Coneflower)

Sisters (monarda pectinata)

Redroot Pigweed Invader

Ironplant Goldenweed (haplopappus spinulosa, aka Cutleaf Ironplant)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Summer Crossroads

This summer, I pause at a crossroads in my writing and image making odyssey. I ponder possibilities. The grand landscapes of the Southwest and our homeland in general beckon. Per contra, I am reluctant to part with capturing and sharing intimate landscapes. My sojourns into the Llano Estacado ecosystem with Cooper have been nothing short of a magical, thought-provoking quests of discovery and self-realization. The tenacity of Llano wildlife and her emerald domes of Broom Snakeweed, sun-kissed yucca, hardy cacti, and rough-hewn tablelands of shortgrass prairie are etched onto my heart. Unquestionably, whichever direction my journey takes I shall continue to foster connections between the human spirit and the natural world.

© Ilija Lukić 2012

Summer Crossroads (Cooper and El Llanero)

Bundle Of Joy (cirsium ochrocentrum, aka Yellowspine Thistle)

Sun-kissed (yucca campestris)

Sundance (gaillardia pulchella)

Are You Lookin' At Me?

Soggy Passage (Cooper)

Yucca Curtsy

Viridescent Love Affair (augochloropsis metallica, aka Metallic Green Sweat Bee)

Bullsnake Sinuosity (pituophis catenifer sayi)

Propeller Throng (Broadleaf Milkweed)

Emerald Dome Boondocks (gutierrezia sarothrae)

Pensive Respite (Cooper)

Summer Harvest (pogonomyrmex barbatus)

Short-Ray Prairie Coneflower (ratibida tagetina)

Aged To Perfection (yucca campestris fruit pod)

Cooper's Sidekick

White Horsenettle (solanum elaeagnifolium)

Ring Around The Roses (acanthocephala terminalis, aka Leaf-Footed Bug, nymph stage)

The Need For Speed

Pssst...Seen Any Pocket Gophers Lately?

Sombra Hirsuta (Shaggy Shadow)

Yellowspine Thistle (cirsium ochrocentrum)

Shade Hound (Cooper)

Bee Bull's Eyes (Cane Cholla)

Long-Headed Coneflower (ratibida columnifera)

New Mexico Spiny Star (escobaria vivipara var neomexicana)

Odd Lady Out (cylindropuntia imbricata)

Groovin' In Sunshine (Horned Lizard)

Desert Straw (stephanomeria pauciflora, aka Wild Lettuce)

Silver Winds (artemisia filifolia, aka Silver Sage)

Pink Cajolery (Cane Cholla)

Delicate Embraces (opuntia engelmannia and yucca campestris)

Pronuba Moth (tageticula yuccasella)