Dust. The smell of clean earth, blown in a cool wind across the shade trees of the plains.
Mile after mile along to the horizon, the bright-blue sky highlights white fluffy clouds and open fields dancing in the breeze, bordered by rows and alcoves of shade trees.
Oak. Elm. Black Walnut. Redbud. Soapberry.
The plains are open without being desolate. The open space is vast, expansive and comfortable to the mind, soul and body.
The wind often howls and whistles on the plains: true.
Dust is blown around in swirls, the same as autumn leaves in the gusts of their season. Mini whirlwinds twirling and spiraling; lifted up around and over the heads of the children, on the playground which smells of gravel.
Then the leaves settle again, floating down to their bright-eyed, disappointed features.
Thunderstorms that boom and rattle the shelves and the windowpanes. Lightening that crackles and splits the night sky in charcoal, gray, white and purple bruises. Sweeping rains that dance and sing their lament on the roof; drumming so loudly that one must place one's lips to a companion's ear to be heard.
The scariest of all: tornado.
Sirens screaming and blaring through the silent still before the storm.
The calm that isn't.
The richness of the shadow that builds, smelling fresh and exciting and electric.
The seemingly unnatural dark that floats over the land, which should be impossible given that the sky is lit gently from within; glowing, like a light-box covered in opaque paper, brighter shades where the cover is thin-- but we on the ground looking up are still in shadow, though our eyes are bathed in the eerie, muffled, glow.
Water is the most important on the plains.
Shade is too.
Without water the heat lightening storms that ravage the land and the people will strike fires in the tinderbox of the plains.
Drought happens almost every year, but some years are worse than others.
Here in Colorado, we're always on water conservation watch. There are whispered words of ice-flow, snow pack...
Rain-barrels are illegal in Colorado, which even though I've lived here a number of years, still seems stupid to me. As long as the rain in the barrels is used on the lawn, it's IN the water cycle. There is no danger.
In Oklahoma and Kansas rain-barrels are an absolute.
In Colorado, wild-fires are the scariest of all things. The air is dry, the altitude is high, and the conditions are ripe.
In Oklahoma and Kansas, there is also danger of fires, but tornadoes as well, and flooding when the rains finally arrive... though some years, they don't.
In Oklahoma and Kansas, a season's crop can make or break a farmer and a family.
In Colorado, a fire can destroy too many, too quickly.
In Vermont we worry about flash-floods, washed out roads, mud-season, ice and snowstorms and the elements; freezing to death.
In the plains, we worry about surviving the summer and the storms that come with it. Also about the ice-storms that can destroy trees and ground lines and close highways.
In Colorado, we worry about FIRE.
Every place on the map has its worries. Every region has hazards of its own particular and peculiar nature.
I love these wild places I've lived, quite dearly.
Nature is fierce; and she serves to warn, comfort, ravage and release us.
Above all: We must respect where we live to survive.
In OTHER news...
I have about 40 pages of the book written.
I've been taking a break these last few days, because I'm not sure where I want things to go. J tells me to "keep writing and see what happens, then revise after you get it all out," but being the proofreader enthusiast I am, I go back and correct little things as I go.
Today though, I'm back letting the word flow as soon as I publish this post. :-)