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Winter on the Prairie by Greg Jerzyk
Photo by Greg Jerzyk
January 23rd, 2012
Winter is full on. The nuts have all been emptied and the first test of the journey toward renewal is passed. Despite the warmth, this is neither the beginning nor the end of winter. Spring is not hinted.
Walking through the savannah, logs and branches lay on the ground sticking out of the snow and fallen oak leaves. A few weeks ago the leaves had acted as fluffy moving hairs waving and sensing. Now by the force of winter, those same leaves are stuck down, greasily smeared to earth's scalp. The logs stick out not as sleepy decaying limbs, instead they shout out of the snow as a bone sticking out of an injured arm. "What is that?" "It must hurt."
Here in this middle, winter strips the informed prairie natives of their attractive accessories, leaving the same natural red brown straw tones showing under the velvet clouded winter light. Stepping on or through water gathering where it wants to, and how it wants to, liquid or solid. Short grasses stomped down by the snow, sit still and quiet blanketing the soil from wind. Tall grasses mostly still tall, submitting to the inevitable command of the wind, bending away yet attentively following the dogma of winter's breath. Tall Golden Rod, each same straw colored stem, moving dissynchronously, non conformingly, laughing at the wind, telling winter, "You cannot stop me."
Amidst the prairie, your eye is caught by riotous stands of shiny gunmetal buckthorn uncomfortably refracting back the dull sunlight, exposing their own conformity. The clutches stand at winter attention holding stiff thorny shields against the protesting competition of other plants and woods that occupy dirt coveted for their settlement.
While for plants Time is hibernating, mammals on the prairie continue to exist and perish, ticking their clocks forward. Deer march steadily through the cold grasses and branches of the land, momentarily raising their bright white flags of "attention" when sensing something non vegetal. How do they view that flag sign from their partner? Is it a threat to the march of their clock or a motion to say I am here, I exist? A deer carcass lying alone, dry and empty still clinging to some of its fur as if to say, "wait, I am not ready to reach my end", does the carcass provide a sign of danger for the still living deer, or is it but a reminder to them of the marching renewal on the prairie?
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