Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

I Climbed A Hill



I climbed a hill one spring day. It wasn't much of a hill, rising gently maybe fifty feet or so higher than the surrounding terrain. From the narrow confines of the grid-like gravel road that cut across the prairie one could easily not even notice the slight dimple it presented on a landscape filled with undulating dimples. Except for the defining rocky outcropping on its peak, I would not have noticed it either, except I was looking for a high place, one offering a panoramic view in all directions.The peak rose maybe somewhat less than half a mile to the west and promised enough extra elevation to warrant a visit. What I discovered from its summit redefined forever my understanding of the essence of the prairie.

The prairie offers a quiet respite from our world, a place of rest in which we in our hurried approach to life too often neglect. It is rare we even recognize how much neglect we're guilty of as we tend to substitute other less effective means of comfort as filler to mutter through life. We've attached so many filters to our lives these days it is amazing we can recognize what is truly important or even what is quality rest. Our often distorted view of the world too often impales us with jagged emotional hooks filled with distrust, fear, and uncertainty. So deeply embedded they become, pulling them out is more painful than leaving them in. Even so, there are times when the hooks holding me hostage become so uncomfortable I am compelled to seek relief for the wounded soul they have created. Climbing a prairie hill, as it turns out, will do such a thing.


The tallgrass was not yet at its peak height just now reaching to my waist, high enough though to brush against my trousers with enough energy to slow my ascent. The half mile or so hike became more like three quarters of a mile as I had to continually cut back and forth to avoid a series of hidden ditches filled with pools of water from recent rains. The damp terrain imparted a deep prairie aroma to the air retaining a wet, freshly-cut flavor to it, but it's not the same. It's different, carrying a greater value with the biggness of the prairie embedded within it.

As I approached the summit, to my left and right prairie blooms unseen from the road became more abundant. A few at first, then more and more blended with the thicker prairie greenery. A splash of red, a dash of white, and a glorious spot or two of purple mixed with brilliant yellow splattered here and there to break the prevailing green pattern. Some stood tall, others favored a lower environment. All were wild and free products of an amazing eco-system. Closer to the summit, Coneflowers began to play in the wind and as I stepped upon the rocky outcropping at the top, the unseen portion of the hill on the west side rolled away to reveal a hidden wonder. Before me spread several acres filled with thousands of Coneflowers, mostly of the pale purple variety. Sloping to the north the hill fell away toward a pond surrounded by more acres of Black Eyed Susans. Their carpet of yellow and black covered the slope and moved in unison when, like an invisible hand, the wind cast its influence. Still farther to the west rose a series of mesas casting shadows in the shallow light of late afternoon adding texture to the landscape. Near their base a herd of about one hundred bison meandered across the fields moving as one unit. Their deep gutteral bellowing just audible. I observed them in fascination for a few moments. They moved with purpose unless a calf delayed following the herd until its mother gently nudged it into conformity.


I would venture to guess except for an occasional American Bison or coyote, few if any people have stood atop this shallow knoll. I may have been the first, maybe even the only one. For several hours I simply listened to the prairie wind whisper its calming message and the prairie birds sing their cheerful songs. There were no other sounds. Lost in a world all but foreign to most people, I stood ever so briefly alone, truly absorbed by the charity of calming rest offered across this landscape. The silence presented atop that shallow hill at least for a moment removed some of the distorting filters that fogged my everyday world. Ever so slowly the sharp impaling hooks embedded in my soul withdrew. I climbed a prairie hill one spring day to discover what was there. Along the way, I rediscovered who I was.

1 comment:

Ryoma Sakamoto.Japan said...

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I am grateful to always nice blog message.
"Welcome to Okayama in Okayama Prefecture of Japan from April 1 to June 30, the Land of Sunshine!
Enjoy a side of Japan crafted specially for you. "It has been held.
Please come by all means to play.
https://ryoma2sakamoto.wordpress.com