Wednesday, February 21, 2007


Warm temperatures have revealed winter's dirty little secret - dirty snow.

We are entering the ugly winter, the opposite of "sparkling diamond snow under a full moon." Everything is looking grey and dirty. Even bright afternoon sunlight doesn't improve the view much.

Give me a fresh snowfall any day.

Saturday, February 17, 2007


When the movie "Fargo" was released I remember the critics waxing poetic about the snowy landscapes. They viewed the countryside as a silent character in the movie.

"Barren landscapes stretched for miles, as far as the eye could see, with nothing that showed the hand of man save for a few lonely fenceposts keeping time along the side of the highway. Pastels and caribbean colors are forbidden in this land of white and grey. It's lonely and one senses a lurking danger. We are immersed in an exotic locale and feel as though we're explorers who have been to the moon and back to tell the tale."

I laughed out loud because it all appeared pretty ordinary to me. Looked like nearby McGough road on a Tuesday afternoon. The only danger would be sliding off the road and if that happens you just call Duke & Lee's Garage to come tow you out.......or if you're not too far into the field you could possibly drag the old rug out of the trunk and jam it under the rear wheels.

Just last year I received an e-mail from someone in North Africa. He was complimenting me on my photographs and discussing at length the "exotic images"....huh? Well, I linked back to his website to see what was going on in North Africa.

I was totally astounded. There's no way to describe the feelings I had when I viewed his photo of a gigantic sandstorm, literally miles high and many miles across bearing down on an ancient town in the desert. I felt as if I'd just made the trip to Mars, that's how foreign and exotic his landscape appeared to me. And likewise the miles of cornfields are exotic to him.

It took me a little while but I think I've got it. Exotic is wherever you are not.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I'm just finishing Loren Eiseley's book "The Star Thrower". Eiseley's servies of essays and poems are a sampling of his work as a naturalist, poet, scientist and humanist.

There's enough food for thoughtful discussion to keep a body busy for a year or longer. A Chicago Tribune review from the time of publication in 1978 states, "His achievement is capturing the joy and terror in human experience, observing with a gifted, perceptive eye those intimations and meanings not visible to others."

In one essay he asks whether it is possible, in a time of modern science and it's ability to dissect every living thing down to it's minutest particle, to lose a sense of childhood wonder.

These thoughts were rattling around in my brain this morning on the drive to the vets office. Looking out the side window of the car I noticed the amazing watercolor image created as I gazed through a thin veil of ice crystals.

Yes, it is possible to retain a sense of wonder. Eiseley was able to nourish this ability as he spent much time alone on his hands and knees searching for the stones and bones that tell the tale of our most distant past.

Maintaining that sense of wonder and seeing the beautiful in the mundane is something we should all strive for in our lives. It's science softened by art.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


A recent snowfall was followed by extremely frigid temperatures. The cold air froze solid the moisture contained in the snow, making it as hard and dry as sand.

The wind is always blowing in northern Illinois, it's as much of the landscape as the rich black topsoil. An especially powerful wind blew in from the west, picking up and carrying the hardened snow across highways like a white sandstorm blowing across a frozen desert. The wind continued, lifting every available molecule of snow and then it began scouring away the topsoil, depositing it in a fine layer over the drifts, beautifully carved by the force of the wind.