Oh Beautiful, For Spacious (Prairie) Skies

“…there don’t seem to be words, let alone colors, to do justice to the land and sky-scape that surrounds me.” — Kathleen Norris

***

In the prairie state of Illinois, the talk this week of August revolves around the solar eclipse.

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It may take an epic solar event  to turn Americans’ eyes skyward. Yet, truth be told, there are wonders above the prairie 24/7. If only we would take time to look.

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Sunsets are an easy sell. Who doesn’t love one?

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But how about the way the clouds float in August, when the tall pink gaura casts silhouettes against the sky?

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Or the building cumulonimbus clouds, with big bluestem’s turkey-footed trinity of seed heads against it?

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Consider the contrast and play of milky cirrus clouds with a few low cloud puffs.  They show us that the harsh mid-day light has its own enchantment.

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Sure, sometimes the prairie skies just seem like a foil for the landscape…

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…or even a backdrop for birds like this dickcissel.

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But without the 360-degree, horizon-to-horizon, ever-changing kaleidoscope of vast prairie sky, the tallgrass wouldn’t seem nearly so rich and intriguing.

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Why not go out right now and take a look at the sky, wherever you find yourself?

And the next time you take a hike in the tallgrass, don’t forget. Look up.

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You might be surprised at what you see.

***

The opening quote is from Kathleen Norris’ introduction to On the Plains by Peter Brown. Norris (1947-) is a poet and essayist who writes compellingly about a sense of place. If you haven’t read her books, try Dakota: A Spiritual Geography.

All photos copyright Cindy Crosby (top to bottom) moonrise over author’s backyard prairie, Glen Ellyn, IL; sunset over farms and prairies near Shabbona Lake State Park, Shabbona, IL;  sunset over prairie in Shabbona Lake State Park, Shabbona, IL; sunset behind big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Russell Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL; gaura (Gaura biennis), Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL; mid-day sun on the Schulenberg Prairie, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL: road across Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; dickcissel (Spiza americana), Nachusa Grasslands, The Nature Conservancy, Franklin Grove, IL; sunset, Russell Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL;  sunset, Russell Kirt Prairie, College of DuPage, Glen Ellyn, IL.

4 responses to “Oh Beautiful, For Spacious (Prairie) Skies

  1. Cindy, I must say that I think your photos are much more beautiful than that eclipse! Thanks for sharing the beauty of our prairie. I always appreciate your text and pictures.  Teri

    From: Tuesdays in the Tallgrass To: tpehta@yahoo.com Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2017 6:00 AM Subject: [New post] Oh Beautiful, For Spacious (Prairie) Skies #yiv4050993506 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4050993506 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4050993506 a.yiv4050993506primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4050993506 a.yiv4050993506primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4050993506 a.yiv4050993506primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4050993506 a.yiv4050993506primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4050993506 WordPress.com | Cindy Crosby posted: “”…there don’t seem to be words, let alone colors, to do justice to the land and sky-scape that surrounds me.” — Kathleen Norris***In the prairie state of Illinois, the talk this week of August revolves around the solar eclipse.It may take an epic” | |

    Liked by 1 person

  2. beautiful…and love what flies between the clouds and prairie also. Cool cloud pic # 2!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Mike — thank you for taking time to comment — that second photo of the clouds over Shabbona was taken when I was giving a prairie talk out west in Illinois. So many beautiful places and prairies to see! Keep looking up!

      Like

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