Seeing Nature

Doodling means time apart, a mental space empty of plans and expectations.  It feels good to have pauses like this in the day.

“Unknowing makes it possible for anything and everything to happen, to just pop up.  When we don’t know, when we have no expectations or fixed ideas about something, then everything that happens at any given moment is just what’s happening.”
— Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace

“As soon as we know something, we prevent something else from happening.  When we live in a state of knowing, rather than unknowing, we’re living in the fixed state of being where we can’t experience the endless unfolding of life, one thing after another.  Things happen anyway — nothing ever remains the same — but our notions of what should happen block us from seeing what actually does happen.”
— Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace

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Driving Nebraska

March 28, 2015

Sunrise near Kearney, Nbraska

Sunrise near Kearney, Nebraska

Nebraska is flat!  I was struck by the wide open landscape and the dearth of trees.  You could understand why early settlers resorted to building sod houses, for wood is scarce.  When we saw trees,  often cottonwoods,  it signaled a river or natural water source.

Nebraska landscape along I-80

Nebraska landscape along I-80

The Great Platte River Road

The Great Platte River Road

Sun halo (sun dog) we saw at a rest stop along I-80

Sun halo (sun dog) we saw at a rest stop along I-80

Huge fields with nary a farmhouse in sight

Huge fields with nary a farmhouse in sight

Irrigation machinery

Irrigation machinery

A whimsical Nebraska practice -- capping fence posts with old, discarded boots

A whimsical Nebraska practice — capping fence posts with old, discarded boots

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Power lines across the Nebraska landscape, near sunrise

Power lines across the Nebraska landscape, near sunrise

Nearing sunrise, Nebraska

Nearing sunrise, Nebraska

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When we left Kearney, we drove north and west through the sandhills of Nebraska.  This is the mid-grass prairie, but the grass grows in clumps rather than in waving expanses, on undulating low hills.  It is range country.  I was surprised to see windmills dotting the range every couple of miles.  I was also surprised at the hundreds of ponds and rainwater basins dotting the land, many with sapphire blue water.

Sandhills (with pronghorn)

Sandhills (with pronghorn)

Horse with cotonwoods

Horse with cottonwoods

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The ubiquitous windmill

The ubiquitous windmill

Sandhill region of Nebraska

Sandhill region of Nebraska

I had not seen such natural blue water since Crater Lake.

I had not seen such natural blue water since Crater Lake.

Train tracks (we saw so many trains carrying coal -- I counted 120 coal cars on one train.)

Train tracks (We saw so many trains carrying coal — I counted 120 coal cars on one train.)

 

 

 

 

The Face of the Fields

April 10, 2014

Stubble in the fields near Collegeville, MN

Stubble in the fields near Collegeville, MN

“The hum of the wind in the tree-tops has always been good music to me, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men.”
— John Burroughs, from The Writings of John Burroughs, vol. 15, The Summit of the Years

I like the phrase, “the face of the fields.”  Here is the stubbly face of the Minnesota landscape near St. John’s University in Collegeville.

Barn with flag

Barn with flag

 

 

 

The area around Minneapolis-St. Paul from the airplane window -- flat!

Every time I return to Minnesota in the nation’s heartland, I am struck anew by its beauty.  The long flat vistas, the rolling plains, farms and fields are so different from the mountainous Pacific Northwest where I live.

The rural landscape in Minnesota is dotted with these iconic structures:  old barns and silos, small town water towers, and large grain storage elevators.  Here are some photos from my road trips to Alexandria in northern Minnesota and Rochester in southern Minnesota:

Foggy country road along my sister's farm near Alexandria, MN

Foggy morning near I-94 "up north"

Grain storage elevators

I saw more of these elevators than ever before on this trip to Minnesota.

Water tower on the horizon beyond the fields

Old silos -- most are unused because few farmers still raise livestock

Lovely old barn and silos near Belle Plaine, MN

Interesting patchwork colors on this barn and house

More and more old barns, disused, are falling into ruin.

Barn and silo along Hwy 52

Watch out for tractors on the roads! The large, new machinery overlaps several lanes of highway.