Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eden Photographed

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.


  1. They are all beautiful. I prefer the winter look; the second last photo. It may be because the weather during the day is 40 degree Celsius here. Quite unbearably hot. Like you said, our preference may change base on our mood at a particular moment.

  2. You chose well, but there's something about the August moon shot that clues me in to the solitude of the Kansas landscape. Do you call it prairie there? They're all very telling photos, Professor, but I don't see any hills.

  3. Kansas is a beautiful and dramatic place. Lots of drama in the summer storm photo!

  4. Yes…scary if you’re not used to it. When we first built the house 11 years ago, the first night we moved in was May 31st and I watched six horizontal but suspiciously funnel-shaped clouds move across my hilltop and Manhattan in the valley below. I was listening on the radio to a storm-chaser describe the site and realized that he was sitting in a circle dead end to the road I live on right out in front. It’s somehow comforting to have the storm-chasers right outside and know that if they start to drive away fast, it is a good indication I should take cover.

  5. We drove to Colorado from our home in Virginia two summers ago. I was told by my friends in Co. what to expect driving through Kansas, but I did not expect to enjoy the scenery so much, especially in the Flint Hills. The landscape reminded me of something more coastal with the grasses and hills reminiscent of dunes. Only thing was I kept thinking I would see the ocean as we reached the top of each rise, but it was not to be. Good luck in this month's contest.

  6. Great photos -- I feel a great sense of place from the collection. For me, the most evocative one, though, is the storm. I've seen golden hills, green prairies, winter frost in many places, here in the arid West. My home state of Oregon has all of these. It ain't Kansas, of course, I'm just saying that, visually, there's not much difference unless you've BEEN there in person and felt it. But we don't get those corker thunderstorms out here (proof: we don't have storm chasers and I'm not even sure what they are except that they must be insane). When I look at that photo, I instantly go to Dorothy, the Wicked Witch and those funnel clouds. You are a lucky man, to be able to see all that from your house! Thanks for sharing.

  7. I am lucky. Unfortunately, the ones you see coming and that look so beautiful are the tame ones. The bad ones, like the tornado that went through town a couple of years back, I could hear the radio announcers saying there was a 1/2 mile funnel cloud over Manhattan but I couldn't see 10 feet into my landscaping it was raining so hard.

  8. Professor, I have passed the Stylish Blogger Award to you. Your blog is linked on mine, and I hope more bloggers will enjoy it now like I have. Visit my blog if you would like to collect the award and pass it on.

  9. A lovely post and a great choice for the competition! I too can relate to these wide-open prairies, as my ancestors farmed in the Eastern Free State of South Africa; i love getting away from my mountains into vast open spaces. Good luck for the competition! Jack

  10. This is a great choice. I love the contrast in the colors. I'm from Colorado and this photograph reminds me of home! It's lovely.


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