[Click photo to enlarge]
This is a photo from the Red River Valley in Minnesota. This area is part of the migratory Great Flyway. Every year millions of geese and other waterfowl make the journey from northern latitudes to the Gulf areas for the winter season.
Around here, it doesn’t take much patience to get geese in your photo anytime in the months of October or November. This day, there appeared to be thousands of geese feeding in the harvested fields surrounding this photo. It is hunting season, and the birds spook easily. This morning only a few took flight when I stopped to take this picture. The rest were content to continue feeding, knowing I was distant enough — whatever my intent — to do them no harm.
For those that are not familiar with this region, the Red River Valley was tall grass prairie before the European settlement of North America. It was part of the Great American Grasslands area that stretched 2000 miles north to south and over 500 miles wide.
When describing this vast region the word “great” is often attached. Although today much of it is cultivated or ranch land, a multi-day drive from the prairie provinces of Canada down to Texas will convince you the use of “great” is not, in the least, an exaggeration.
The writer, Bill Holm, appropriately referred to this region as having “horizontal grandeur.” Here are his words:
“The prairie is endless…it goes west for over a thousand miles, flat, dry, empty, lit by brilliant sunsets and geometric beauty. Prairies, like mountains, stagger the imagination most not in detail, but size. As a mountain is high, a prairie is wide; horizontal grandeur, not vertical. People neglect prairies as scenery because they require time and patience to comprehend. You eye a mountain, even a range, at a glance. The ocean spits and foams at its edge. You see down into the Grand Canyon. But walking the whole prairie might require months. Even in a car at 60 miles an hour it takes three days or more. Like a long symphony by Bruckner or Mahler, prairie unfolds gradually, reveals itself a mile at a time, and only when you finish crossing it do you have any idea of what you’ve seen.”