March 29, 2015


Kochia tumbleweed caught on fence, along I-80 in Nebraska

Kochia tumbleweed caught on fence, along I-80 in Nebraska

“[F]rom the point of view of humans, the tumbleweed’s main function is poetic.  They roll and bounce on the wind, they fly through the air like half-filled weather balloons, they pile up in throngs against fences and buildings.”
—  Ian Frazier

Tumbleweeds caught on a fence in Nebraska

Tumbleweeds caught on a fence in Nebraska

Kochia tumbleweed with shadow

Kochia tumbleweed with shadow

Tumbleweed piles up along fence

Tumbleweed piles up along fence

It was very windy in Nebraska, so it was no surprise that we saw tumbleweeds bound across the land as we drove along I-80.    They made me smile, and I soon was silently humming the drifting tumbleweeds song that I must have heard on the radio when I was a child.

“Tumbling Tumbleweeds” lyrics by Marty Robbins

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,
Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.
Nights underneath the prairie moon,
I ride along and sing this tune.

See them tumbling down
Pledging their love to the ground
Lonely but free I’ll be found
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Cares of the past are behind
Nowhere to go but I’ll find
Just where the trail will wind
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

I know when night has gone
That a new world’s born at dawn.

I’ll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.


4 Responses to “Tumbleweeds”

  1. shoreacres Says:

    I was going to take a photo of the tumbleweed I brought home from Kansas, but didn’t get it done. It’s living atop a bathroom cabinet now, safe from both me and the kitty.

    I didn’t learn until I was writing about it that they’re also known as Russian thistle. They were introduced, and they spread their seed as they roll, so they don’t break off and start rolling until the seed is ripe.

    You may have seen this before, but even so, it’s well worth another viewing. I just watched it again — twice!

  2. blueemerald Says:

    I grew up in SE Washington amongst wide open, flat, desert-prairie landscapes. Your photos made me quite nostalgic. Always when I see tumbleweeds I recall one particular Tumbleweed Incident…..
    I was in school in Seattle. Term was up. Exams were done. Little brother, roommate and I were off to E. WA for holiday! Exhausted and giddy we packed off for the often adventurous winter drive over the mountain pass. No matter. School was out. We were going home. For the holidays!
    Talking. Laughing. And more talking as we made the journey. We finally settled down a bit after Vantage. Musing. Thinking about holiday food, catching up on sleep, seeing family. Gazing out the windows. A mellowness settled in.
    “WHAT’S THAT?” my roommate suddenly bellowed from the backseat. Her arm a spear she pointed out the front window. WHAT’S THAT?” Her face screwed up in consternation. “What?” we said. “THAT” she bellowed again with a note of hysteria. My brother and I searched the landscape. What was causing my roommate such upset? Then brother and I simultaneously blurted out big laughter. HAHAHA!
    A tumbleweed. The object of angst was an enormous tumbleweed! Taking aim and blowing across the road narrowly missing our car. You see, my roommate was from Hawaii and she had never experienced a tumbleweed. Large, brown, round, swirling, tumbling, alien menace!
    Scary. Then funny!

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