Tango makes friends everywhere!
Well, we haven’t heard the toad’s story ….
Happy New Year everyone!
Feeling a bit sluggish after the holiday fun? Well, you have nothing on this fellow. I found him in the middle of Wilderness Lane, an infrequently traveled road which gives this slug a better chance to reach the other side. It made me think of the many people emerging from the “holidaze,” just trying to reach the other side. Sending them, and everyone, best wishes for the new year. In the immortal words of John Lennon, “Let’s hope its a good one/Without any tears.” ❧
How many times have I heard someone say, “There just isn’t any seasonal change in Florida. I miss the changing colors of the trees.”? Perhaps this picture will convince the Florida “newbies” that there is an autumn in Florida but it comes later and is more subtle. It would be more dramatic if we hadn’t altered the landscape so severely, trying to make everything look like a New England cottage or a Midwest farm. These cypress trees are a good example. They are relatively young and were probably planted by the owners of the property. Cypress trees were once plentiful in the marshes and glades but man has chopped them down along with the ancient oaks that once populated the pastures. Florida isn’t for everyone but sometimes it seems as though everyone is here. ❧
The term “badlands” is so visually descriptive one hardly needs to say much more but if you need an accurate definition our friends at Wikipedia offer this one, “They are characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation, lack of a substantial regolith, and high drainage density.” That concise statement characterizes what you see in the picture. We were fortunate enough to visit the Badlands in early June. The searing sun and hot temperatures of summer had not yet eliminated the green vegetation and wild flowers of spring which seemed all the more beautiful when set against the backdrop of those rugged slopes. ❧
My interest in the Badlands began in the early 1980s. I saw (and acquired) a print by the artist Greg Mortensen. It was a scene from the Badlands and I think this picture may be close to the spot where he conceived the idea. Mortense is a reduction woodcut artist. Here is an explanation from the Davidson Galleries website:
The reduction woodcut process uses the same block of wood over and over, unlike the traditional woodcut method that employs separate blocks for each color. The artist cuts and prints the woodblock in stages, printing a different color on the same sheet of paper after each cutting. As successive areas of the block are cut away (reduced, hence reduction woodcut), inked and printed, the image builds in subtlety and complexity. Dijkstra and Mortensen both make effective use of the process to express their respective landscapes.
The print I acquired was the first of three Mortensens I would eventually own and it is my favorite. It means even more to me now that I have seen the source of his inspiration. ❧
The year is nearly past and for me that means picture sorting. It can be a chore but it is also fun and it is best to be disciplined about these things, especially when you take as many pictures as I do. It was a good year all around but most memorable for me will be my journey to the Badlands in South Dakota. It was a trip I had dreamed of and it was as wonderful as I had imagined. I traveled to the Badlands with my good friend Mary Riddell. It was early June and the weather was, well it was picture perfect. I’ll be posting some pictures over the next few days because I am sorting them for a calendar.
The first picture is, obviously, an inhabitant of the Badlands. We often call them buffalo but this is actually an American Bison. It is only distantly related to the true buffalo. There are four extinct species of the bison, three from North America. The slaughter of this creature is legendary. On our travels through South Dakota we saw several healthy herds of bison but this big fellow was the closest we came to any of them. He was by the side of the road, using the wooden post to scratch an itch. It was June and he was probably shedding the last of his winter coat. He was as big as our Town & Country van which was a bit frightening. I carefully snapped photos and prayed he wouldn’t charge the car.
Be sure to click on the image so you can see it more clearly. His eye is so expressive to me, so much wisdom and strength. Imagine being able to be so close to such a magnificent creature! What a blessing.
He was clearly accustomed to humans and their cars and we did not seem to bother him in the least. I imagine him now with a new winter coat somewhere on those vast and very cold plains. What an extraordinary world we inhabit and how lucky I have been to see so much of it. ❧