Karen Madorin

Prairie Ramblings writer

Community: Hays, KS

A sixth generation Kansan, Karen Madorin cherishes the prairie in a way only one who has left a beloved homeland and returned can.  A writer, amateur photographer, and former teacher, Karen loves finding fossils from the ancient inland seas as well as learning about modern pioneers who harvest Kansas wind.  Her Prairie Ramblings essays celebrate living the good life on the High Plains.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Lilac Memories

Memory triggers include anything from childhood toys,  favorite tunes, or scents that punch the start button on videos of our past that cycle over and over in our heads.  Each spring when lilacs bloom, I get a full two weeks of scented prompts that start those mind movies rolling. 

Lilacs figure into my earliest recollections.  I haven’t checked with my mother, but I suspect their scent wafted into my very first home to imprint on my infant brain.  Every time I smell those lavender blooms, I think of sunshine and gentle breezes combined with motherly and grandmotherly love.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

First Hunt

Parents mark children’s lives by firsts:  tooth, word, step, and day of school.  As youngsters mature, these memorable moments come further apart.   However, for a youngster who hunts, this list continues to grow.  If my husband and his friends’ experiences are any indication,  this record not only lengthens but  is infinite.  Hunters live for their stories, which always include a first. Perhaps this is a hunter’s way to cling to childhood’s elusive magic.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

The One Day a Year It's Okay to Knock and Run

How many remember dancing in a circle while weaving long ribbons around a May Pole or making construction paper baskets covered with crayon drawings? Afterwards, flowers picked from the yard or a kind neighbor’s garden filled those paper baskets. Once you loaded your baskets with fragrant blooms, you sneaked from door to door to hang your homemade containers. At each house, you’d knock and then run like crazy to avoid detection. May Day was one of my favorite holidays from earliest childhood.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Blooming Turkeys

Outback Steakhouse may advertise blooming onions, but I know where turkeys bloom in  green fields near my house.  Like a rose going from a tight bud to full summer bloom, those big ol’ gobblers put on a show. Puffing their feathers and spreading their fan-shape tails into a full blown sail, they strut and rattle.  All this action occurs to woo nearby hens that coyly scan the area for insects and greens.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu April 4, 2013

Spring Concert

For some, spring heralds the arrival of green leaves and flowers.  For others, it is a time to plant the garden in anticipation of summer’s bounty.  For me, spring signals the opportunity to fall asleep each night to nature’s jam sessions and to awaken to her symphonies in the morning.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Eggs and Antlers

I hated leaving childhood and the annual Easter morning search for hidden goodies behind. Until I discovered shed hunting, the adult equivalent of a child’s egg hunt, I didn’t know grown-ups could still experience the thrill of finding well-hidden treasure, in this case antlers camouflaged by tall grass.  My husband introduced me to this spring ritual soon after we met. Discovering that first drop thrilled me the same way finding Easter prizes brightened my early years.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu March 21, 2013

The Return of the Herons

When I think of Great Plains birds I usually think of meadowlarks, hawks, and crows.  In this dry country, I don’t think of water birds with their long legs and necks as typical.  Yet these herons have made the plains home longer than European immigrants have.  Their limbs have adapted for wading our shallow creeks and rivers, and their bills make perfect spears to impale unwary fish and frogs.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu March 14, 2013

The Goose at the End of the Rainbow

Shamrocks, leprechauns, pots o’ gold make me think instantly of St. Patrick’s Day, a joyous spring celebration.  As a child, I was sure the old stories must be true and anyone lucky enough to stumble upon the rainbow’s end would find a leprechauns’ pot of gold. I was also certain that mortals rarely, if ever, find that arc’s end.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Brown Creeper Therapy

Brown-creeper

The months after Christmas until mid-to late March are the most difficult of the year in my opinion.  Spring and summer have always warmed my heart as well as my back as I bend over tomato plants in the garden or flowers in their beds. Over time, I have learned to love fall with all its color and pre-cold weather symphonies even though I know what comes next.  But winter—I struggle with.  It takes effort to celebrate long, colorless days.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu February 28, 2013

When Nature Calls, Don't Answer

  Despite a flu shot and obsessive hand washing to avoid this season’s germ, it found me.  If folks tell you it’s bad, believe them.  If they add it lasts forever, it’s true.  After a week and a half indoors, struggling to overcome primary and secondary symptoms, cabin fever set in.  Climbing the walls had new meaning. I needed a dose of outdoor therapy to help me battle sniffles, coughs, and headaches left in the wake of this super virus.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
11:14 am
Thu February 21, 2013

Ribbons of Birds

One of my favorite parts of wrapping presents is creating pretty designs with all kinds of ribbon.  The  paper corners may not be so sharp as one might wish, but I love using  scissors to stretch skinny little green or red Christmas trim into dangling sausage curls.  Somehow sparkly spools of foil, scissors, and tape bring out the creative in me, and I find myself making loop de loops and fleur de lis on my loved one’s gifts.  I’m not sure skill matches imagination, but I love playing with strands of fabric and paper.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Great Plains, Small Town Hearts

Over a decade ago, I lucked into a National Endowment for the Humanities Seminar titled  The Great Plains: Texas to Saskatchewan.  For five weeks,  Tom Isern  led 19 other teachers and I to read and analyze literary and historical texts, discuss conclusions, and visit iconic sites to better understand what it means to live on the plains.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Life Cycles From Auction Buyer to Seller

All my married life, I’ve loved attending local auctions.  Part of the charm of these gatherings is seeing friends and neighbors and catching up with one another’s busy lives or listening to the auctioneer’s clever patter.  Another reason these events draw me  is the chance to see history and sometimes buy a little chunk of someone else’s story.  Unfortunately, there comes a time when those little pieces of other’s lives add up to enough stuff to clutter my closets to overflowing.  Before anything bursts, I need to take action.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Trophy Dust Bunnies

Athletes compete to make the play-offs.  If effort and luck shine on coaches, managers, players, owners, and fans, two franchises make it to games such as the Superbowl, World Series, Stanley Cup or other legendary competitions.  Olympians dedicate four years to earn those few seconds or minutes they have to claim gold. Hunters spend seasons seeking the biggest buck, bull elk, caribou or other record setting trophy to decorate the family room.  After a week of packing a house we lived in for 16 years, I have decided homemakers need their own prize.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Life Away From the Lens

I swore I would never be a woman who lived her life behind a camera lens.  I wanted to live in the moment, experiencing life as it occurred. 

I achieved this goal until I received a Nikon that captures moments up close and from considerable distance with clicks of a silver button.  Using that telescopic lens, I could see fine details my unaided eye used to see as blurs.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Sunset Memories

Skilled technicians with the right equipment create concert and video light shows that dazzle viewers.  An important component of such expertise is that anyone, anywhere can ooh and aah at  color and light shifting like a living kaleidoscope. Kansans don’t have to wait for light shows to come to town. They only have to look west each evening to enjoy award-winning productions the setting sun and our clear atmosphere create daily.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu January 10, 2013

For the Love of Wildness

A while back, I read a book titled For Love of Wildness by retired Game Warden Terry Grosz.  I wish I’d found it earlier in my marriage to help me understand my husband’s love for his work.  This time of year, I always needed a good reminder of why he chose his profession and why he devoted so much time and energy that wasn’t always appreciated.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu December 27, 2012

Dust Storms and Attacking Tumbleweeds

Growing up, I heard story after story about the Dust Bowl from my parents and grandparents.   Dad described his mother shoveling rather than sweeping post-storm drifts.  Grandma told how she placed wet sheets over her children’s beds to protect their lungs as they slept.  She’d launder the linens the next day because they got so dirty.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu December 20, 2012

Clearing the Air

In China that was the year of the horse or sheep or some such beast.  Around my country home, it was the fall of the skunk. 

Driving up our 1/8 mile long entry road the other night, I counted four black and white creatures in my headlights. Since those were visible, who knows how many stinky little pests ran around outside my vision.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
11:22 am
Fri December 14, 2012

What I Learned Living with a Bow Hunter

I grew up in a hunting household.   My dad made an annual pheasant pilgrimage to Kansas.  He also spent time stalking javelina and deer in Arizona, but he was always a rifle hunter.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu December 6, 2012

Swagger and Blink

The bucks fight for her attention, but the doe is oblivious.

If junior high dances are anything like they used to be, on the way inside, you pass noisy boys jostling one another for dominance.  You hear snippets of saucy trash talk, see manly posturing with exaggerated shoulders and aggressive chins, as well as smell a mixture of colognes designed to tantalize the fairer sex awaiting that evening’s Prince Charming. 

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Lucky Hunters

After every rifle season, lucky hunters celebrate their success stories, recounting details of the hunt to their friends and anyone else who will listen.  Over the years, I have heard many a tale about the one little turn of good fortune that transformed the ordinary hunt into the extraordinary hunt.  One story I never heard ought to be told because that hunter is the luckiest of them all.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
12:18 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Autumn Sounds Different

Autumn sounds different on our rocky hilltop.  As the temperature drop and days grow shorter, life looks and sounds considerably altered than it did just six weeks ago.  We have new guests at the bird feeder while other frequent diners headed South weeks ago.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Ancient Rock Connects Women Past and Present

Weekend trips were my father’s favorite way to unwind.  One of his favorite getaways was a  ranch east of San Diego along the Mexican border.  Semi-arid and craggy, it’s mystique appealed to me as well.  It was a relief to escape the crowded Los Angeles basin to this uncomplicated ranch nestled amidst sage-dotted hills.  The land’s sparse vegetation and up-thrust boulders made it difficult for man or beast to inhabit. 

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu November 8, 2012

Orange and Black Ellis Bugs

Like death and taxes, I count on box elder beetles invading every year.  These nuisances creep into every crack and crevice of our house, silently multiplying until nowhere is sacred.  I have even had them fall off a showerhead while I shampooed my hair.
Unfortunately, I don’t know much about these creatures other than that they show up like a bad penny every fall. They squeeze through airtight windows, out of electrical sockets, and under door jambs like Mongol hordes.  What lures them, I don’t know.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Buffalo Grass Miracle

Weather in Kansas often leaves a person feeling a little schizophrenic.  If it confuses me, what does it do to vegetation and animals that live outside?  At this moment, our climate is causing some abnormal buffalo grass behavior.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:06 pm
Thu October 25, 2012

Sandhill Song

Leaves changing colors and a sudden nip in the air proclaim autumn’s arrival more forcefully than any date on a calendar can..  With that change comes an ancient song.  Like steps on the porch announcing a visitor, this tune is the sound of summer’s exit and fall’s approach. Vernal musicians herald ice storms and frosts that destroy lingering tomatoes and late summer blooms.

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Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu October 18, 2012

End of Summer Sunbathing

I remember college days . . . waiting for the first warm day of spring when my friends and I headed to a nearby lake . . . unveiling our winter-white bodies to piercing rays of pre-summer sun.  It felt so good to lay my bathing suit clad body on the softness of a worn patchwork quilt.   While vitamin D mixed with UV rays coursed through our sun-starved carcasses, my friends and I agreed  that this was bliss.  If I close my eyes, I can still feel the sharp edges of small stones pressing into my spine and the sensation of solar beams soaking into my belly and face.

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High Plains History Episode
8:01 pm
Tue October 16, 2012

Nicodemus

Nicodemus 1885

Pioneers come to the west, leaving all that was familiar, to create a new community- Nicodemus, Kansas.  To this day, descendants of that hardy bunch return to celebrate.

Prairie Ramblings Episode
8:01 pm
Thu October 11, 2012

A Corn Maze, Roasted Peanuts, and a Kansas Pumkin Patch. Does Life Get Any Better?

Gold, scarlet, and orange leaves and grasses, blue skies muted by just a hint of vernal gold, air crisped by a gentle breeze, and burnished milo fields.  What more could anyone ask for on an October weekend?  Not much, unless you want to toss in a cornfield maze, a pumpkin patch full of traditional pumpkins, Cinderella pumpkins, and some odd gray - blue pumpkins, a toasty wood fire designed for roasting marshmallows and peanuts, and hayrack rides.  

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