Gardening Gone Wild's "Picture This Photo Contest" for February 2011 has had me in a tizzy now for a couple of weeks, tossing and turning in my sleep, and flipping and flopping like a landed fish over my choice for entry. The photo contest theme (each month has a theme) is to take or choose a photo that captures your favorite place in a manner to display its "Genius Loci," the special atmosphere of that place. In the words of guest Judge Andrea Jones she wants "your personal interpretation of one of your favourite outdoor spaces. Your special place photographed in such as way to show what you love most about it. Please keep the view wide as possible to encompass of a view as you can but capture that spirit – that’s what matters."
Although I'm fairly new to both garden blogging and garden photography, I've already amassed a number of pictures of the Flint Hills landscape around me. The dilemma for me is which of my stored photos best represents the feeling that this land stirs in me? Kansas presents so many faces to experience that I hardly know where to start. Is the best choice a photo of a typical golden Kansas sunrise as viewed on the right?
Or should I choose a photo of the summer thunderstorms coming from the North (as at left), the clouds so low that they touch the land?
Do I choose to highlight the characteristic agricultural activities of the Flint Hills? Would viewers be interested in the streams of fire rolling down the prairie hillsides in the annual burns?
Or would the August moon over the late harvest of summer grass be more captivating and inspirational?
Perhaps the sunrise creating a cheerful morning mood over my garden to the Southeast of the house?
Or will the frosts of winter highlight the Southern view of my garden towards the town serve to grab the attention of those who have never experienced the beauty of Kansas?
After long consideration, I still believe that all of these photos, all taken essentially from the walls of my house, represent well this special place on the Earth. Perhaps the choice of "the best" depends on the mood of the viewer at a particular moment. But in the end, the view that I have chosen to exhibit the innate spirit of the Flint Hills is the same picture that has been the background of my computer desktop all winter. That image, below, taken late in the day in early Winter before the start of the December snow, starts at my front lawn and looks North towards the horizon. The gravel road visible in the picture winds around the rolling grassland and hints towards the promise of travel, of life beyond this barren prairie, this Great American Desert. The rust and beige hills sit in somber silence, and the gray winter sky is not yet allowing the promise of Spring. Except, of course, in my heart, where I know that these weathered hills will pass through frost and fire and emerge again emerald green in the Summer that will surely come again.