You never really know what you’re going to get. Central South Dakota is not exactly a hotspot. I blew through it a few times on the interstate. If you can call five and a half hours blowing through. It was just a necessity of moving from point A to point B. They raised the speed limit to 80 recently. That helps.
For a month one autumn I drove around in circles in central South Dakota. I wasn’t lost or stuck. I was looking for migrating birds. I didn’t find what I was looking for. And that was a good thing. It seems I was the one who should have been migrating.
One evening there was a horde of Franklin’s gulls, on Crow Lake. Naturally. It was dusk, the light was beautiful. In my endless circling, I saw the flocks, pushed by the wind, accumulating in the southern bay. In the air and on the water, they were everywhere.
I took this photo for the light, the motion, and the fluidity of the scene. I returned at dawn, better prepared to photograph the migrating mass, but, in the air or on the water, there were no birds anywhere.
For too many years Hart Mountain was out of my line of travel and added just enough extra time and miles to the trip at hand that I by-passed it. This spring I made the effort to go there, just there, and was well rewarded. It is a long slog from anywhere, the roads can be quagmires, the dust invasive, the heat crushing, and the mosquitoes draining. May it always remain this way.
It is already true that one can be dropped on any commercial strip in the USA and have no idea where they are. Each is so much the same, so not unique, that Chattanooga and Bakersfield look much the same. We have eradicated the prairies, slaughtered the forests, and filled the wetlands, must we also quash the individuality of the national monuments and make them conform to the ideals of capitalism, consumerism, and corporate expansion? What of calm, contentment, and courage to step outside of the box, to appreciate the subtle realm of time, space, and light that is not under our control? Where will we go for peace when we have used up all that is wild?
You have seen my photos over the last year. Many of those photos were taken in national monuments (including the two on this page). If you enjoyed my meager attempts at conveying the intensity of these landscapes, you will enjoy this (free ebook) photographic journey through the national monuments by exquisite landscape photographers
Spring arrived on Emigrant Lake recently. The lake is calm and beautiful and rowers are again plying its waters. Larkspurs and biscuitroot are blooming. The oaks are pushing leaves. The Siskiyous create a misty, almost-mythical backdrop.
Winter wrens are the tiniest little forest birds yet they have a huge, crazy-long song. They throw their heads back and put their whole body, heart, and soul into each note. They barely weigh a third of an ounce (~9g) but their song resonates throughout the deep forest.
I doubt any human has as much heart or soul as a winter wren, but being about 7,000 times heavier, I hope to make that up through sheer mass.