Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Days

"Dawn in the Valley"
© Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

This is a repost from my "A Tallgrass Journal" blog this morning.  Frequently my activities take me through the same avenues in my art work as well as in my interest of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. I've been spending these days exploring prairie remnants, but still along the little creek that flows past our home in the valley.  The tallgrass is entering summer now and there is no holding it back!

One pleasant personal observation this year has been the larger than remembered vocal presence of Dickcissels.  They are even calling from the fences bordering our own yard!  Now this is likely a good opportunity to get more photos of this grassland favorite...but Murphy's Law steps in with cases like this.  If you go out and dig thistle or mow, or pull brome - they sing praises to you!  If you even carry something "looking like" a camera - they leave for the neighbor's pasture!  Little buggers!  But it's nice to hear and see so many here this summer; would be nice if they were actually rebounding a little.  

I'm embedding a very short video here of a male Dickcissel singing from a pasture fence post...many people don't realize what a pretty little bird this is (or don't even recognize what kind of bird it is!)...although the video isn't a "close-up" of the bird, it will give you an idea of how it looks. For a better look at a Dickcissel, you can view a closer shot in a past post in this blog - Here.  If you subscribe to this blog via e-mail the link for the video feed is -  (That link would also allow full screen viewing.)

Enjoy the birds on the prairie this summer!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

"Sunrise on McCormack"
photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view) 

Today, as I write this entry, is the Summer Solstice.  There is something about those words, "summer solstice" that I find almost mystical...mysterious...much like a bank of intangible emotions.  The evenings now have an air of insects and amphibians, carried aloft across the valley and into the yard windows.  It lulls you to sleep and brings pleasant dreams, but not really of this world.  

Does summer take on a more specific meaning or feeling to a person after many decades on this earth?  I have to believe so. The seasons have long been compared to our lives; maybe the summer solstice reminds me of younger days...I don't know.  But it does make me feel motivated somehow.  My motivation is "out there" certainly...out there, outside that yard window, that music in the valley that Georgie and I embrace each morning, afternoon and evening.

If I were to sit upon a twig and float down the creek outside our door, I would eventually pass this place I've photographed here.  It reminds me of the summer solstice...there is that same feeling of fleeting intangibles I'm so desperately trying to put into words.  And now that this moment has passed, the days will very slowly shorten once again, but I am grasping every encounter and savoring and caching them for the rest of the summer and into the final seasons.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Our "Mountains"

Anviled Thunderhead in the Valley
Photograph © Bruce A. Morrison
(click on image for a larger view)

I get to feeling like a broken record around here in the spring, summer and fall.  The view here is very nice, but add the drama of the morning or evening skies and it can be quite amazing!

I've been working on some landscape photography and painting ideas the past couple weeks in the "neighborhood", and was processing several of the image files I'd taken yesterday afternoon and evening.  Georgie had alerted me to the cloud formations forming out across the road, so I took periodic trips out to the pasture and took some photographs...about every time I'd head back into the studio for more work, I'd look out the window and everything had changed and needed shooting again!  Its hard getting anything done here in the summer, especially in the late afternoon!

This thunderstorm (which I guess was actually in northern Kossuth County and into Minnesota) eventually "anviled" out and was very dramatic across the valley, with a blue sky backdrop and the evening sun lighting its facade!

I do say it a lot, but I'm gong to say it again...the clouds are our mountains out here on the prairie, and they are beautiful and awesome!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

100...From the Cellar to the Fire!

Cope's Gray Tree Frog on Solomon Seal here in the
garden at Prairie Hill Farm
(Click image to view larger size)

Its a windy blustery day here at the studio and acreage...the kind of wind you'd get from a fan placed inside the oven and blowing into your face!  Good grief its only early June and we already hit 100 degrees fahrenheit yesterday!   The yard thermometer said 104 but the official Spencer temp was 100.

This morning I was watering some things in the vegetable garden and some newer flower beds and planters.  With the wind so high I pulled the "sprinkler" spigot off the watering can and refilled from the rain barrels.  Imagine the humorous surprise when I was watering the peppers and a Tree Frog popped out of the spigot with the water onto the plants!  It looked quite surprised!  At least it was hydrated.   :)
The frog is a Copes' Gray Tree Frog and very common here and its a favorite of ours! (I say that so much for everything but it is what it is.)  Both Georgie and I love the frogs and toads here.

This is the real beginning of the tree frog season here in the valley.  We'll hear them in chorus with the Cricket Frogs for the next 3-4 weeks, then they'll be quiet (for the most part) for the rest of the summer.  But we'll keep finding them here in the yard and around the buildings all summer long.  Gotta love these little guys!

Watch your step and enjoy our small gifts!