June 8, 2008
Today was a breath of fresh air.

In more ways that one.

I just got back today from an extended vacation on the East Coast. I thoroughly enjoyed the time out there, but towards the end of the trip, I yearned to be home.

Also, when I left on the trip, just after Memorial Day, the land was parched and brown, and there was little hope of abundant "million dollar" rains in the near future.

However that all changed when I was gone.

The rains came and the landscape "greened up," providing some much needed optimism for area farmers and ranchers.

Today as I started my hike, I knew that I might have to escape back to shelter as there were rain showers in all directions.

I went to the first patch of prairie to see what was growing. Surprisingly, I found a number of wildflowers blooming, but due to the cold spring weather and lack of rain, the ones that I saw were late maturing. In other words, it seemed like I was hiking in mid May.

I went to another patch of prairie, and it started to rain. However, I was enjoying the time so much - seeing the beauty, breathing the fresh air, enjoying the solitude - that I kept hiking and taking photographs.

I then went to a field about two miles from the Missouri River. As I looked for wildflowers, a rain shower that was building to the southwest started to unload. I walked into the coulee and stood under a number of trees to avoid from getting drenched. Finally, the rain stopped and I proceeded on.

I listened for thunder and looked for lightening, but there was none - as I always am mindful of the dangers of lightening.

I then checked some areas about one-half mile further west, and it was at that point that the rain shower started to build into a thundershower - with thunder and lightening. I stayed in that area for some time, waiting for the storm to move east before I proceeded back to the farm.

Soon, I headed home, with another quick stop. However, a quick glance to the southwest included a view of another small thundershower quickly heading my way, putting an end to my hike for the day.

The positive - even though the wildflower growth has been delayed by about two-to-three weeks, there is ample moisture that if I come out anytime in the next month, I should have plenty of opportunities to photograph wildflowers - and to enjoy the solitude of the prairie.

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