Tag Archives: landscape

Palo Duro Canyon: Things Are Big in Texas!

Palo Duro #2 is a landscape view of the rugged sun-scorched Palo Duro Canyon in the Panhandle of Texas.   Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States. The canyon is about 120 miles long and 20 miles wide and can reach depths as far down as 900 ft.

Created by the same forces as the Grand Canyon, Palo Duro Canyon appeared due to water erosion from the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River.  The  severe water and winds erosion of the sedimentary rocks over millions of years slowly carved out the canyon.  Because the river ran over a relatively flat area known as the Llano Estacado and thee poured over the Caprock Escarpment, it allowed for formations containing deep grooves in the canyon wall and flat top mesas to appear.

During the summer months West Texas is brutally hot Palo Duro Canyonand arid. The State Parks and Wildlife Division advises all hikers and bicyclists to bring plenty of water when traversing the various paths and roads. Large portions of the canyons do not have any form of shade and give almost no protection from the 100°+ F heat.

The winter months are just as brutal as the summer. Being on a relatively flat surface without the benefit of forests or massive mountains in the way, there is very little protection from the howling north winds that come off the Great Plains stretching all the way into Canada. During those cold months it is not unusual for this area to experience blizzard conditions.

Historically, Francisco Vázquez de Coronado was the first European to set eyes on the canyon during his famous expedition to find the seven cities of gold. He even remarked on the huge herds of buffalo that frequented the Llano. He also met with the Apache who were the aboriginal inhabitants of the local area. As he traveled east, he met their enemies the Kiowa and Comanche ethnic groups who soon pushed the Apache out of the canyon and farther into New Mexico.

All of this makes for an interesting visit to West Texas.   If the heat or cold of the Llano and the various rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions don’t frighten you off, then you will be fortunate to see the gorgeous vistas and mesas of the Palo Duro Canyon. Whatever you do though, don’t forget the sunscreen. You’ll need it.

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“Educator’s Field Trip Guide.” Educator’s Field Trip Guide. Palo Duro Canyon Foundation, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. .

Winship, George Parker. The journey of Coronado, 1540-1542, from the city of Mexico to the Grand Canon of the Colorado and the buffalo plains of Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, as told by himself and his followers, Book, 1922; digital images, (http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth3161/ : accessed October 09, 2014), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, http://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries, Denton, Texas.

Dodge #2: Graveyard or Resurrection?

Dodge #2 is the second in a series of photographs depicting dodge trucks taken in an old junk yard behind a shopping center.  The shot of this 1951 Dodge pick up truck  from the driver’s side looks out on the open field and majestic mountains in the background.

I chose black and white as the medium to showcase the lingering demise of this workhorse of yesteryear.  The black and white tones really punctuate the shadows and shades of deterioration found on the truck.  It also enhances the grass and the misty mountains in the background.

The sun was high on the eastern horizon in the mid-morning hours and provided a dangerous amount of harsh direct lighting to highlight this scene.   I used a polarized lens to diffuse some of the glare and give the deep shadows necessary to offer up the contrasts that make this picture decry the desolation I wanted the viewer to feel.

Desolation was a main theme. I wanted to portray the loneliness of this truck against the flat opened fields of grass. The feeling of abandonment after years of dedicated service to some farmer’s cause is quite real. Who knows how this truck spent it’s last minutes of useful life.  Did the farmer sell the truck to the junkyard for a couple bucks? Or, did the pickup truck gasp its last breath on some forlorn highway in the high desert only to be towed to its final resting spot? Never to be repaired or operated again.

Another answer that may never be known is the load Dodge #2in the bed of the pickup truck. Was it there on that last day? Or perhaps some long forgotten workman, cutting the grass and tending to the weeded overgrowth of the fields put those items in the truck so that the mowers could work smoothly.

So, this image remains a mystery and a last question is easily brought to mind. If we humans consider the life of a machine by its usefulness or job  performance, then is this truck really dead?   Could not the spirit of this isolated and weathered hulk live on by being of service to the very men who put it there? It’s new job being the keeping of the lawnmowers and customers safe from the items still in its disintegrating truck bed.

Has the spirit of duty been resurrected for this truck? Or, has its fall from usefulness claimed this truck to lie in its junkyard graveyard forever?   What do you think?

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The Art of a Texas Hayfield

I was sweating in 78° F weather in Dallas, Texas last week.  Today I’m freezing in a balmy 32°F with new terms in my vocabulary like cobblestone ice, thunder-sleet, and frozen fog.   Unusual?  These things happen in Texas.  It’s a sign that winter has started in a serious way.

 

Now some of the unlucky few whom have never seen the lands around Dallas or Fort Worth may ask yourselves how such a temperature difference can happen.   The answer lies in our location.   To the north and west of the metroplex you see a lot of what our picture Hay Fields of Texas shows.   There are no trees, no hills, in fact nothing that would stop one of the famous “Blue-Northerner” cold fronts that dip down from Canada.  This is an example of what the saying “In the middle of nowhere.” means

 

Indeed, Hay Fields in Texas is exactly that. This is a picture of a flat agricultural farm that grows hay feed for cattle or horses on the drifting southern edge of the Great Plains.   There is nothing but flat land and desolate lonely telephone poles.

 

Artistically, it’s not as barren as the view may suggest.  The flatness and straight line of the horizon elevates the impression of barren nothingness.  This line blends with the pale blue sky and the contrasting brown of the field.  The lines of the field, however, present an interesting pattern that serves to beautify the hayfield.  It’s shape short lines and black, white and tan patterns are out of the ordinary and motivate our eyes to study it closer.

 

Overall the sudden change in colors of sky to land and natural lines found in the image serve to inspire our curiosity.  What could be so flat?  Where could such a place be?  How can we as people surrounded by buildings and tress imagine some one actually living in such a strange place?

Enjoy!

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Why Are Pagodas in Zen Gardens?

Why do they put pagodas in Zen gardens?  What is a Pagoda anyway?

To the western mind a pagoda is similar to a cathedral. During the Middle Ages in Europe the Christian Church had a problem.   The Crusades into the holy land produced a rather lucrative market for holy artifacts and relics of the various saints.  Worshipers felt that these relics provided healing, prosperity and happiness if people prayed in their presence.  So, Church leaders started building cathedrals, shrines, and monasteries as a constant reminder of God, his saints, and the power of the church.

A pagoda is an Asian counterpart. Buddhist missionaries and laymen built pagodas to help spread the teachings of Buddha. Various sized pagodas are found from Bangladesh to South East Asia and China through the Korean Peninsula to Japan.  These structures housed important ashes or sacred relic of the Buddhist traditions.

Thus, the ability to shrink one down and place it in a garden as a statue is as natural as finding a cross, or statue of a saint in a Christian meditation garden.  It is a reminder to focus on the teaching, stories, or ideas the garden represents.

Pagoda designs descend from and contain local cultural alterations in appearance from the early Buddhist stupas found in India.   Pagodas are a place of gathering and a physical reminder of the teachings of the Buddha.  It is worth noting that Taoists also use pagodas for their shrines and artifacts too.

Most pagodas are found inside temple complexes of varying sizes and contain various shrines.  The taller pagodas are generally fitted with a metal roof  “hat” that made them susceptible to lightning strikes.  This was often on purpose to give that extra dramatic “pow” of the divine when lightning struck the tower.

These structures last.  Their designs are well suited for extreme natural conditions such as typhoons, lightning, and even earthquake prone regions.  Only a major fire has any real chance of destroying these structures.

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For further information about Pagodas try

 

http://www.kyopro.kufs.ac.jp/dp/dp01.nsf/ecfa8fdd6a53a7fc4925700e00303ed8/42629bd933a02da6492576b800333676!OpenDocument

 

And

 

http://www.jref.com/forum/all-things-japanese-26/pagodas-25061/

 

I used both sites and a little history knowledge as references to this article.

Delphiniums: Reds, Whites, and Blues

When I took this picture I saw several things.  The first was a really cool blue stalk with gorgeous white and blue layered flowers.  The second was that the stalks of flowers  silhouetted against a field of pink and reds.  The color is so vivid and alive.    However, the plant is a mystery to me.

I admit that I’m not much of a gardener.  Living in a rather urban setting, there are few opportunities to practice growing anything more than an odd tulip now and again.  I should say that between tornadoes, hail storms, and the oppressive drought or summer heat from May to October, it is difficult to grow long-term plants that don’t end up looking like they had a 3 round fight with a weed-trimmer.

There was no sign telling me what kind of plant I was looking at.  Therefore, I did what anyone would do.  I Googled it.  This hybrid flower is one of the 300 species of the Delphinium plant.  It is a perennial found in many gardens throughout the world.  Gardeners are fond of the large spires of flowers and the unique color combinations that are found.  I discovered that they are only grown outside of the comfort zone of a cool climate like Alberta and Colorado as annuals.  Otherwise, they remain classified as perennials.   They remain a favorite with butterflies and hummingbirds.  However, it’s best to keep dogs and toddlers away from them as they are quite toxic and can make them very ill.

I’d imagine the Texas heat in July and August would melt them which would explain why I hadn’t seen this type of flower being grown around Dallas before.

I found this website gives good information on the different types of Delphinium available.

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http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/perennial/delphinium/