The Other Side of Sunset

The Other Side of Sunset

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Pavement Ends: Photos Begin

As we were driving home from Manhattan a week ago, the sky was offering a final encore for the evening. We had just turned off I-35 at McPherson and were working our way home via K-61 highway.

"If you need to stop, we can," said my ultra patient husband when he saw me pull my camera from my purse and try to capture the moment through a bug-specked windshield.

We turned off on an unfamiliar road just south of McPherson. I hopped out of the car and started snapping away. Then I noticed a sign: "Pavement Ends." I traversed the steep ditch and snapped a few more pictures, this time including the sign in the shot.

And I thought about how fitting it was that we'd turned off onto that road that very night.

Earlier in the day, I'd attended a 20th anniversary brunch at Kansas State University's Staley School of Leadership Studies. This summer, Jill sent me a link to an opportunity connected to the anniversary celebration. The Staley School invited alumni, friends, faculty and staff to submit photographs to be displayed in the building.
When the school moved into its new building in 2010, they'd asked photographers and artists with a connection to Kansas and K-State to share their work, with the thought that the pieces would be refreshed and rotated over time.
With the 20th anniversary celebration coming up, organizers believed it was "the time." The photos that had been hanging in the building would be auctioned off, with the proceeds to go to support leadership students.

For the new artwork, photographers could submit up to five images to be considered by a panel which included professional artists, faculty and former students. For each image, the photographer was to submit an artist statement about how the image could reflect leadership.

I looked through my photos, wrote artist statements and polled my family. paring the 11 photos I'd pulled down to five. Late in October, I was notified that one of my photos had been selected.
They happened to choose a photo that I have hanging in my own living room. (I have a grouping of my photos that reflect the seasons, a celebration of Ecclesiastes 3. The green wheat with dew is my "spring" image in my home.)
Now, its bigger cousin hangs as an "archival print" in a conference room on the leadership building's second floor. It was thrilling to see it there.
My parents and Randy joined me at the Staley School reception.
Conner, a leadership student, led us around the building, telling us a little about each of the new photos. We walked into another room, and I did a double take. On the same wall with an image of Bill Snyder, there was a photo that looked really familiar. Another of my photos had been chosen, and I didn't know it until I walked into that room.
But there it was. I called the image Faithful to Our Colors, a line from the K-State Fight Song.
I couldn't believe it: Two of my photos had been chosen.  My letter had said one, but there was another.
I later found out that more than 200 images had been submitted in the Leadership Lens initiative. Only 26 were chosen to be hung in the Staley School of Leadership Building. I couldn't be more honored.
And that brings me full circle back to that Pavement Ends sign.

As we walked through the building and looked at the photographs, there were images from around the world. One featured a colorfully-dressed woman in Haiti. A captivating image of a baby baboon had already been included in a display at the Smithsonian Institution after being recognized as one of the best photos in National Geographic. Another showed an elephant family ... and it wasn't taken in a zoo. It was taken in the elephants' natural habitat.
And, still, an amateur farm wife photographer from Central Kansas could take photos from where the "pavement ends" and be included. My usual habitat features cattle and farmyard cats, not baboons or elephants.

There is beauty everywhere. It's in city skylines, but it's also found on an early morning walk on a dewy morning down a dirt road in Kansas. It's just a matter of opening our eyes to the wonder.

In a few years, my photos and others that were just installed will be auctioned off as a fundraiser. This inaugural auction raised nearly $10,000 for programs at the Staley School.

And that is beautiful, too.

For more about the Staley School of Leadership Studies, click here.

I have photos hanging in K-State's College of Business Administration. Read about that here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Beauty of Fall

After a couple of hard fall freezes, many of the world's colors have faded like fabric left too long in the sun. But during the past few weeks, as I rushed from one "go-fer" activity to the next, I sometimes paused for a snapshot.

While the autumn scenes are fast fading to the more sepia tones of winter, I'm glad I took the short detours to capture fleeting beauty.
Several of my daily emails from Guideposts have urged me to relish my surroundings:

A Time to Think

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it,
and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns. —George Eliot

A Time to Act

Autumn is a beautiful time of year—the crimson hues of fall foliage
are awesome proof of His presence.
 Notice this amazing gift that is Jesus’ signature
 and praise Him for His glory.

A Time to Pray

Dear Lord, my spirit cries out for You. I praise You for this beautiful world
and Your presence in it.

A Time to Think

Imagination is what convinces us
that there's more to the world than meets the eye.
 And isn't that the first principle of faith?
—Jonathan Rogers, author

A Time to Act

Treat yourself and relish in the beauty of life.


A Time to Pray

Dear Lord, I praise You for simple pleasures.
A sunrise. A walk through the woods.
Remind me to take the time to notice the aspects of Your handiwork
 that thrill my soul.
Quivira National Wildlife Refuge

A Time to Act

Look to the trees and the scattered leaves on the ground
and be inspired to let go of the weight of past hurts and disappointments,
 forgive yourself of any mistakes.

A Time to Pray

Heavenly Father, help me release feelings and thoughts that are holding me back
 from becoming all I am meant to be.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

All in a Day's Work

The sunrise is God's greeting ...
the sunset His signature.

That morning started with a parts run to Hutchinson. I was heading south to Highway 50, but a glance to the east had me turning down the road to my "sunrise tree." I snapped a couple of photos, not my customary dozen, turned around and resumed my duty.

Later that evening, I had to pick Randy up from the field around sunset.
The view as I crossed Peace Creek was worth another stop. The camera's eye couldn't seem to capture the scene, no matter how many adjustments I made. It ended up being one of those moments when you just have to "be there."
But as  I turned away from the sunset and toward the eastern skies, the scene took my breath away.
The sunset light had shut down my camera lens when looking directly towards it. But that same light bathed the clouds in the eastern sky, highlighting them in diffused, pastel light.

My go-fer job doesn't pay particularly well ... unless you count the sunrises and the sunsets. Then I am a rich woman indeed. 

(I was looking for the terminology for the eastern sky at sunset. I didn't find that, but I did find a fascinating interview about the science of sunsets from National Geographic.)

Friday, November 10, 2017

A Salute to Veterans: Black Hills National Cemetery

The white gravestones march across the landscape, lined up in the military precision familiar to the soldiers who rest there.

The Black Hills National Cemetery is located just off I-90 between Rapid City and Deadwood. The the sounds of 18-wheelers and the rush of cars fade away as you drive through the gates to the cemetery.
Randy and I visited on a September day, a short detour as we traveled from the Rapid City Hospital, where his brother was being cared for, and his apartment in Deadwood.
I decided to save my blog post and photos until this Veterans Day weekend.
It was in 1947 that Congressman Francis Case endorsed the concept of a national cemetery in South Dakota. With the active support of South Dakota veterans organizations, the site was chosen just outside Sturgis in a portion of the Fort Meade Military Reservation.
The 105.9 acre parcel of land was transferred to the Department of the Army in 1948 for national cemetery purposes. The cemetery was designated the Black Hills National Cemetery in recognition of its location within an area of historical significance.
There are more than 29,000 members of the Armed Forces and their eligible dependents buried in the shadow of the Black Hills.
It's a solemn and quiet place.
One of the plaques at the cemetery reads:

The muffled drum's sad roll has beat
The soldier's last tattoo;
No more on life's parade shall meet
That brave and fallen few.
On Fame's eternal camping ground
Their silent tents are spread,
And Glory guards, with solemn round,
The bivouac of the dead.

Because Randy's dad was a Korean War veteran, we stopped to pay our respects at the memorial for that war.
The American flag is flown 24 hours a day at the Black Hills National Cemetery. It stands in silent vigil honoring the lives and deeds of those who answered the call of duty in their nation's service.
On this Veterans Day, I thank all of those who have served our country in the past and those who continue to protect us as active duty personnel today. I also thank their families, who sacrifice their time with their loved ones to benefit us all.
This nation will remain the land of the free
 only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~Elmer Davis

For a look back at other Veterans Day tributes from The County Line, check these out:

20th Century Veterans Memorial in North Platte,  Nebraska
In Honor of Veterans, a tribute to my late father-in-law, Melvin Fritzemeier
American Hero, Part I and Part II (Vietnam POW)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Top Secret Mission

"I'm sorry, Ma'am! But you can't take pictures."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm sorry, but this is a prototype, and you can't take pictures."

"At all?"

"No, ma'am. I'm sorry."

OK. I'm up for a challenge. I can take pictures and not reveal your super secret MacDon draper header, Mr. MacDon Salesguy. (For the record, I asked our local harvester, and he said it was OK if I didn't show details of the header itself.)

It personally think it was more of a challenge to get the silage in the truck. The wind was blowing 90 mph from the north. (Well, maybe it wasn't that bad, but it sure seemed like it!) Naturally, that's the day the silage-cutting crew showed up to cut of 25 acres of silage.
The silage wasn't standing tall either. While we waited for our turn from the custom-cutting crew, the tall stalks succumbed to gravity. It was definitely a different scene than last year, when the stalks towered over Randy's 6-foot, 1-inch frame.
By the time the harvesters reached the second field, the sun was on its way down. Even though the lighting wasn't ideal on the photo below, I still liked the image of the four silage trucks waiting in their own mini version of a silage traffic jam.
Opening the field was challenging, since the silage was down and the wind was howling.
But, eventually, they were rolling, though the pace was slower than is sometimes the case.
Silage cutting is another one of those choreographed farm "dances." The silage feeds into the cutter and is chopped. An auger carries the chopped silage into the truck.
All this happens "on the go," with the truck and the cutter continuing in sync through the field until they get to the end of the rows. They then move into position for the next swath down the field.

As they cut, another truck follows behind, ready to move into position when the first truck is full.
By design, Randy plants the silage in fields fairly close to the silo so that it doesn't have to be trucked so far.
Once it's full, the trucker takes it to the silo.
I give the truckers an A+ for their backing skills.
The silage trucker backs into the trench silo, dumps his load and takes off for another load-on-the-go.
Between trucks, the tractor driver packs the silage into our own "Green Mountain."
Once in the silo, the silage goes through an "ensiling" process. The silage goes through chemical changes and heat builds up. It raises the pH of the silage so that it doesn't spoil or ferment any more. About the top 6 inches of it will rot, but then it forms an airtight seal, protecting the silage underneath.

After we brought the cows and calves off the summer pastures, the guys started feeding the silage to the feeder calves. For them Randy adds about 3 to 4 pounds of vitamin- and mineral-enriched grain per head, since they need the additional energy to grow to get ready for market. After the mama cows are done dining on milo stubble and volunteer wheat, they, too, will get the silage.

It's good to see the cattle's "pantry" full and ready for Old Man Winter.