This post is more of an extension of my last “In Search of Fire” post. I had written about some of my time out searching for the springtime ritual of burning of the prairies and some of my difficulties in experiencing what I was hoping for. At that time I didn’t mentioned I was planning on attending an event last Saturday specifically catered toward this important practice of springtime prairie burns. Being my first time to attend the “Flames in the Flint Hills” event I wasn’t sure what was in store.
The event kicked off around 3:30pm and from my estimate there were 60-70 folks in attendance. A laid back take it easy atmosphere with good food and live bluegrass music provided by a very talented group of local female musicians called The Skirts. The music was great and the food was wonderful and plentiful enough to make you belly burst. A few speakers told of the long standing traditions and benefits of burning the tallgrass prairies mainly which is the survival of the grasses as opposed to the invasion of woody species such as the eastern red cedar which is very obvious in areas that have not been burned for many years. Tallgrass covered flint hills or cedar tree covered flint hills, hmm. Of course I was there to take pictures along with many others. As with any burn the weather would be the deciding factor and on Saturday it cooperated nicely.
We all went out for the first burn event late in the afternoon, walking a quarter mile or so up to a section of flint hills on the ranch and with some basic common sense instructions people started the prairie on fire which is not hard to do this time of year. Light a match throw it down and done deal.
The ranch hands had their trucks and water tanks on hand to help suppress the fires within an hour or so and to save this area along with a few thousand more acres for lighting off around sunset. It was fun and entertaining to watch folks set the land on fire, must have something to do with our early days of civilization and discovery of making fire, it still seems to get people worked up.
I came home late that night leaving the Flying W Ranch at around 9:45pm with the smell of prairie smoke in my clothing and some 370 images on my compact flash card. The last few days have been spent going through those images to see if maybe I was lucky enough to have capture some of the feel and atmosphere of what turned out to be a fun, entertaining and exciting time spent in the heart of the Flint Hills surrounded by fire and good folks from as far away as New Jersey.
Thanks to land owners Josh and Gwen Hoy, master of ceremony Jan Jantzen and all the other great people for providing an experience I look forward to attending again many more times in the years to come.
These images and more available at: bradmangasphoto.com