Wednesday, July 7, 2010

South Dakota Wildflowers Paint the Prairie

The first year Jim and I were married

there were several blizzards

that left my little teal 4-door Geo metro buried

and our house surrounded by snow drifts

so deep that I did not use

the stairs of my deck nor see my yard fence

for 3 months.

Instead, I walked over the fence straight onto my deck

on snow.

Then, for the first 12 years of living here on the ranch

we had a drought.

Summers were a dreadful brown.

In fact, in the summer of 2006,

we were afraid of any storm cloud.

Because clouds meant lightning

not rain.

All of my life, I had been taught

to stay away from hilltops

when there was lightning.

That year, night storms

meant Jim would get up and sit on a hilltop

watching for the glow of a fire.

Day storms

would be a time for Ann & me

to gather up our four kids

and sit on a hilltop watching for smoke.

Ready to call our husbands

away from another fire if lightning struck

close to home.

That summer the Black Hills were burning

and the prairie was burning too.

My parents evacuated their house in the Black Hills

and we moved several neighbors out of their homes

because the flames were headed toward their house

Here on the prairie.

Weather went from extreme blizzards

at the start of our marriage

to a drought that drifted into dry winters.

So dry that our kids would take plastic sleds

and slide down brown grass and cactus covered hillsides.

Sledding winter, spring, summer, fall on dry ground.

I had no idea then

that the prairie could be

so beautiful.

I had no idea

that wildflower seeds lay dormant

waiting to explode in color

and paint the prairie.

Photos & text 2010 Jodene (Jodi) Shaw.


  1. Hi Jodene,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love finding new friends via the groups and classes. I will enjoy following along in your journey.

    Your photos are AMAZING. Thank you for sharing.

    We lived in Minnesota for 9 years and one of our BEST trips was out to the Black Hills. To this day the kids continually ask, when can we go back. We went during MEA, which is in October in Minnesota. It is am amazing land we live on. Your description of living in South Dakota is beautifully written.

    Have a great day!

  2. Beautiful photographs! Thanks for stopping by my blog too. That cross my daughter found was to amazing not to share!

  3. Wish all four of your grandparents could read your blog and see your pictures.......they would love them! Grandpa Tommy and Grandma Edna would really appreciate your story of the beauty produced by mositure on the prairie! Like you they saw the droughts and they saw lush years.

  4. Beautiful. You do a great job.

  5. What gorgeous photographs. Mother nature is truly a wonderous thing!

  6. I'm here to visit your studio but wanted to stop on the way to let you know I've enjoyed your wildflowers. Connie

  7. Wow, those are beautiful photos. Thanks for giving me a glimpse of another state, that seems a world away from me in Florida.

    In 1998, we had a summer filled with brush fires. I went to Cocoa Beach, 2 hours north of where I live, to visit my parents for the 4th of July. There were so many fires that the sky was gray and white soot floated in the air. It looked like snow, yet it was 85 degrees out. My mom was in the hospital for something, and I remember looking out the top floor window at the Banana River below. A porpoise was swimming quite strangely, in circles, right on the surface. I wondered if it was because he was breathing smokey air. At the end of the summer, Disney World wanted to thank all the state's firefighters who had worked so hard fighting fires, including my husband, and they gave every firefighter's family free passes to Disney for two months. We went a couple times, even though we usually don't go that time of year -- it was too hot.

    How's that for a Florida story for you?

  8. Your photography and writing are beautiful.

    I grew up in Ree Heights, South Dakota with your mom.

    Laura Deuter Headrick


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