Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Idea of Paradise

I wish I were a poet or an artist, or even much of a writer or photographer.  Then I could explain just how beautiful the Nebraska Sandhills are. What they smell like. What they sound like. What they feel like.

Since I'm not, I will just have to be satisfied with enjoying them myself and continuing to try in my stumbling way to share them with everyone else.

There were a million things I had to do on Sunday, and I opted not to do any of them, but instead enjoy a hike. I call it a hike because I always carry a backback (otherwise it would just be a walk, and that doesn't sound near as adventurous), and today, I even cut a walking stick. The Mister is always worried that I will encounter a rattle snake or other dangerous critter and not have a weapon. Since a gun is too heavy, and I probably would just end up shooting myself, a walking stick is a good alternative.

I had an inkling it was going to be a great day when a small flock of turkeys greeted me just south of the Birdwood creek.
There were three toms and two hens, but no babies, which I wondered about. I never did get a good shot of their beards, but I think they were big. They gobbled back at a whistle or a shout, and weren't really worried about me, just kept wandering around and eating grasshoppers.

A little further on, my cousins' horses posed for a photo. The little guy in the center is always funny to watch. When they are out running in the pasture, you can tell that in his mind, he is a big horse. He is always straining to take the lead, which he never does, but he tries.
They were especially friendly today.
I parked a little way north of the cabin, because my cousin has had cows in near the house and the fence was up. The gate is too tight for me to open, so I just walked.

When I got to the cabin I stopped to check our handiwork from earlier in the week. Under the heading of "if it's not one thing, it's another" I found that a swarm of bees had taken up residence right near the front door. You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it to really see them, but there were a lot of the little buggers, obviously doing what bees do best, making a hive.

Ah well, I wasn't equipped to do battle with bees, so I left them alone.

A short hike into the hills and I came across a red ant hill. These guys were also scurrying around working very hard. I got real close and took several shots, and hopefully you can get an idea of how many there are.

Unfortunately, I took a little too long to get the shot I wanted. Shortly after this, I was shucking my britches just as fast as I could to squash one of the little devils that had found his way up my pants leg. There are advantages to hiking alone.

I've told you before that the yucca flowers are edible, and that cows find them delicious. Here is evidence. A beautiful yucca stalk eaten right down to the spikes.
After about a mile and a half of hiking and I am rewarded with my first glimpse of the Birdwood.
The beautiful Birdwood valley. It was well worth the hike.

Right about the time I was enjoying the beautiful view, I realized that I had to make it a mile and a half back to the Pilot and I was exhausted!

I started making a mental list of everything that could happen that would spell disaster. Of course, I hadn't bothered to tell anyone where I was, so who knows how long it would take for me to be found. Thank goodness I had Tweeted from a hilltop. At least that would give a clue to my whereabouts.

Now of course, nothing did happen, but even something as simple as rolling an ankle would have made things difficult. I have resolved to always tell someone where I'm going, what route I plan to take and when I expect to be back.

On with the trek. The prickly pear cactuses are in bloom. The little green bees are making the most of the bounty. He's in the right-hand flower. Click to enlarge to see him at work. For being so tiny, these little guys make one heckuva noise. It sounds like a distant siren, or the whining of race cars around a faraway motor speedway. Stop and listen closely and it becomes obvious what is making the noise, but at first they are hard to spot.
Just one of the beautiful draws I passed during the day. On the return trip, I foolishly decided to take a short cut across the draw instead of skirting it. The trip down and across wasn't bad, but as I started up the far side I realized that I was far too tired to enjoy the climb.

I made it though.
There are lots of these balls of what look like spit on the plants. I wonder what they are. One of the first purchases when the cabin is habitable is going to be a picture book about the flora and fauna of the Sandhills so I can answer all of these questions.
Some type of a thistle.
And some pretty yellow flowers.
And a lone pretty pink flower.
There you have it, another beautiful day in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee's always on.

ShareThis