An unexpected visit to Sioux Falls meant that I had time to explore the Sertoma Butterfly House and Marine Cove, which I’d never been to before. As a kid, I thought butterflies were hard to catch…try photographing them! The Blue Morpho butterflies were my favorite, and of course those proved to be the most difficult to photograph because they closed their beautiful wings to a dull, brown camouflage every time they landed.
I hadn’t been to northeast South Dakota for about 14 years and had forgotten how much water there is, which makes it a great place for fishing. My cousin Abby caught so many fish today that I lost count. My count was easy to remember, but not memorable. Zero. Hey, at least I tried. Nevertheless, it was a relaxing weekend with two aunts & uncles, cousin, mom and grandparents.
I was excited to see several pods of pelicans, and even moreso, that they didn’t “gift” anything to me.
Caught some weathered cattails on Wirth Lake before the rainstorm. And, a bird dove into my shot for a cameo, which came out of nowhere because I didn’t see it until I reviewed my photos. Maybe it was an Angry Bird?
Speaking of angry birds, it reminded me of the time in 2006 when I walked the Lake Michigan lakefront in Chicago with my friends Greg and Megan. Minding my own business, I was walking along and suddenly my elbow felt wet as it moved past my shirt. Puzzled, I patted my arm to figure out what it was. Slimy. I looked down, and my face slowly transformed into a foul expression of disgust. I had been shat upon by a bird. Not just any ordinary bird…an obese bird. How do I know this? It had divebombed the equivalent surface area of a salad plate on my shirt. No s#!t. Well, actually, there was a lot of it.
The sad thing is that it wasn’t the first time, nor the second time it’s happened to me. …Not exactly the type of chick magnet, one might aspire to be. Today then was a lucky day for meeting the birds. Today was s**t free.
My maternal grandma would sometimes sing Mairzy Doats, a song whose lyrics at first seem meaningless. But if you listen closely and sing them slowly, this 1943 song all makes sense. It begins:
Mairzy doats and dozy doats and liddle lamzy divey.
A kiddley divey too, wouldn’t you?
Bonus: I even found a clip from The Lawrence Welk Show, a program for which I’ve seen more episodes than I care to admit.
Wielding a professional looking camera yields conversations that normally wouldn’t come your way. As I was eyeing the flowers to frame up my next shot, a stranger walking by interrupted me and asked if I was doing a school project. (I live next to a community college.) We chatted for about two minutes, and as the person was about to leave, they said, “You know, your eyes are something else.” “Oh really?,” I countered.
They continued, “Have you ever been…You should be a…uh, what’s the word….” I waited patiently for them to complete their thought. “…an eye model?” they asked. Hmm, now that’s a career option I’ve never set sight on.
I’m fascinated with old-fashioned barns that speckle rural America. The architecture, the history, a reflection of the past. I have many memories of our family barn, from playing with my sister, brother and friends (at the top of the list) to daily chores and cleaning (at the bottom of the list). Memories such as witnessing the amazing birth of lambs, puppies and foals; bottle feeding newborn lambs whose mothers wouldn’t let them nurse; luring back escaped horses with buckets of oats; finding small nooks for games of hide-and-seek with friends; the daily hunt to find where the hen Peaches laid her egg; sitting on a 10-gallon bucket after school to talk with your sheep in hopes to tame them in time for the 4-H fair; and the early morning wake-up call from Mr. Roo.
Over the past 30 years, the core frame of our family barn and the hayloft have stayed the same, while the rest has adapted to changing livestock needs and hobbies. This barn is well maintained. Others are not so fortunate.
One by one, many historic barns are vanishing. Today, wood framed barns are often replaced by more cost effective metal buildings or pole barns. And with fewer working farms, many barns sit idly on the prairie, and each timber, weathered by time, deteriorates or sags until the building falls in upon itself.
During your summer treks,
take note of these barns,
some big and some small.
And reflect on the history,
of ones that stand tall.