Not Far Off the Freeway
Traveling by car across the mid-western U.S. can be an endless drudge of corn and soybean fields, the horizon interrupted at regular intervals with storage silos. My trip last week offered a delightfully different view with fall colors dancing in the early morning light and breeze along with the geometric cuts of corn rows in mid-harvest. Sumac grows like a weed along Interstate 80 across Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois, and its ruby red, spirally arranged leaves called to my camera like a siren song. With much of the right-of-way turned to swamp from recent rains, I searched for an easy-off, easy-on access. I found my first opportunity advertised on the familiar brown sign used by highway departments to direct traffic to points of interest.
Other cars were parked at the gift shop for the Spring Creek Prairie Audobon Center, but the grounds were deserted. Perfect! I'm not antisocial, it's just I much prefer the quiet and time with my own thoughts and perceptions when I photograph solo. Alone, I can listen to the wind, trees, and grass tell each other stories of the coming winter without interruption.
My stop at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge the next morning afforded a few shots of large lily pads, far-off views of snow geese, and a congregation of coots. Time of day and time of year added up to zero visitors besides myself.
The short visits were an opportunity to experience the wonder of previously unexplored natural environments such as prairie grasslands and flatland forests. The only cost was time and I hope to stumble across a few more of these gems tucked between the cornfields on my return trip home.
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