Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Symphony for the Eyes

The scenery is familiar, but it's never routine. The Flint Hills are a symphony for the eyes, a place where the grass is, as poet Walt Whitman describes, "hopeful green stuff." The prairie is often referred to as a sea of grass. On a breezy Kansas day, the grasses undulate, their "feet" staying in place like a junior high boy at a Stuco dance while the upper body sways to the music of the wind.

We often drive Highway 177 between Manhattan and I-70.  It gets us from "family" in Bill Snyder Family Stadium to family in Topeka. Though the route is the same, the view is always different. The clouds change. The shadows from dawn to dusk paint different swaths across the peaks and valleys. The grasses and prairie flowers each have their time to bloom, then wither.
We've never stopped at the scenic overlook until last Sunday evening. It was the weekend of "to-do" lists. Brent had a list to help make his new Manhattan house a home. Jill & Eric needed some heavy lifting, too, something that wasn't on the acceptable activity list for a soon-to-deliver mama.

But, with clouds billowing in a summer blue sky and light diffusing from the west, we stopped at Overlook Park. It's located on the northeast corner of the Konza Prairie Biological Station and overlooks the Kansas River Valley.  The 8,600-acre Konza Prairie Preserve, jointly owned by The Nature Conservancy and Kansas State University, is one of the largest tracts in North America dedicated to research on the ecological processes that characterize and maintain the tallgrass prairies. From Overlook Park, the Konza Prairie Preserve stretches south for five miles to I-70 and four miles west. 

I gazed toward the horizon and wondered what the settlers thought as they looked across the vast expanse. Though I heard the rush of semis barreling by on the four-lane highway in the present, my imagination turned the white, billowing clouds into the settler's white canvas-covered wagons which would soon circle together at dusk.

Spring, summer and fall's revolving  color wheel will eventually fade into the drab brown of a cold, Kansas winter.  And still, there is splendor in the monotone palette, a simple loveliness like that of a woman whose natural beauty is unadorned on a "no makeup day."
At 6 PM, the sun didn't cooperate for a sweeping view to the west.
But the view to the north made up for it.

With triple digit temperatures, the fall seems far away. But the prairie must have an inkling that autumn will soon come. A few orange leaves decorated the green landscape, nature's preview to the next season. 
A woman was sitting on a bench, just taking in the view. She saw the camera in my hand, another appendage, it seems at times. And she kindly asked if we'd like to have a photo taken.
We were pioneers that day, too, taking time to stop and not rush by the beauty in our "family's" backyard.

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  1. Beautiful pictures. You can look at the same scenery everyday, and everyday it's different. Love living in the middle of nowhere.

    1. Thanks, Cheri! The Flint Hills are much different than south central Kansas, where I live. But I love seeing the differences. People may think Kansas is flat from corner to corner, but it's not.

  2. Congratulations! This post was selected as a Country Fair Blog Party Champion!