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. ❧
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. ❧
One of the first pieces of art that I bought was a woodwork-reduction painting of the Badlands by Gordon Mortenson entitled “Cattle Country.” I have loved that piece of art and yearned to visit that exotic part of the world. Today I got my wish. It was a spectacularly beautiful day and the Badlands were all I had hoped for. The area has received a lot of rain this year and the grasslands that surround these unusual geological formations were lush and verdant. Wildflowers were everywhere and, just for fun, prairie dogs and buffalos. All in all one of the best days ever. ❧