I spent a Saturday recently learning about and enjoying the wonderful countryside. Starting off by a morning visit to Konza Prairie Biological Station attending a docent meeting. The meeting was an event to update docents of Konza to new opportunities and events that are on the fall schedule. These include the typical tours and hikes of Konza for the public along with a new opportunity to get the general public more involved with the prairies, Flint Hills and enjoying this unique ecosystem. In general there will be some more docent led hikes that will be available for anyone to attend on Saturday mornings. More info will be passed along here on the blog as soon as details and times are worked out and made public.

It is always great to attend these gatherings of fellow minded nature enthusiast I only wish I could be more involved in all the wonderful learning opportunities that Konza offers. There are miles of public hiking trails that are open year round from sunup to sundown that the pubic can take advantage of anytime they want. With the fall season just around the corner it would be great time to plan some visits.

The weather this summer has been brutal to say the least, hot dry days have stretched into weeks and has put a damper on some of the flora bounties that exist not only in this part of the country but around the nation. These lands in the center of the continent known as the Flint Hills and tallgrass prairies might dial back their growing abundance but they don’t stop. The views of our last stance of the tallgrass prairies are still spectacular and always worthy of time spent to take in all that awaits.

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© Brad Mangas

After the morning meeting I decided to take the long way back home, for me that is really the only way to get back. No need to hop on the interstate and hurry back, it’s much more enjoyable to hit the back roads and meander slowly taking in all that I can. Such was the case this morning, with a much needed break in the weather I decided the day must be spent enjoying the moments.

Cloudy, cooler conditions had arrived with rain showers scattered around and for me it was perfect. I could have spend the entire day just walking in the rain. I didn’t have to dodge many rain showers they seemed to keep their distance as I traveled the country roads allowing much time to be out and attempt to capture the day with the camera. A typical one hour drive back home ended up taking over six hours and I still feel like I rushed a bit.

I had no plan, no idea of where to go and no idea of what I would find, that attitude stayed with me through the entire day making it one that provided a much needed break from the dog days of summer complete with cooler temperatures, cloudy skies and the occasional rain drops wetting my appetite for more.

Many of the areas of the prairie have not reached their full potential due to the extreme long running heat wave and lack of moisture, but are still those places that seem to have ignored what mother nature was dishing out. Colors have began to appear in some of the grasses which typical don’t occur until later in September and October. If I was to guess I thing the fall colors will happen early this year and might be short lived when they do appear. It was similar last year after a long hot dry spell but now with the extreme deficiencies in moisture of the dryer winter coupled with the drought of  summer  I’m not holding my breath for a spectacular fall season, but I do hope I’m wrong.

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© Brad Mangas

These types of situations can easily lead one to say, “the heck with it, it’s not worth going out” but that is only giving up to opportunities that are still available. I’ve been over thousands of miles of road this summer and to tell you the truth they are start to look the same. I seem to be searching for the pot of gold when I might be better off looking for the small nuggets that I know still exists in abundance. This can be a time of creative thinking, allowing yourself to think outside the box so to speak and see what it is you can find that expands your creativity or maybe even offers new opportunities in your photography. I know for myself when the picking seems slim I always think of doing some macro work or for myself it’s not exactly macro but much more close up or intimate images possibly with a single subject or isolating a subject in the frame. There are always opportunities when you focus in on the detail of most anything. I might have to start telling myself to look close instead of looking far even when in the vast wide open spaces of the prairies.

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© Brad Mangas