Prairie Ramblings

Saturday afternoons, 2:30 central during Silver Rails

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 teacher, Karen loves finding fossils from the ancient inland seas  as well as  learning about  modern  pioneers who harvest Kansas wind. Each week Prairie Ramblings takes you inside everyday life.  It is a celebration of living the good life on the high plains.

Dust Storms and Attacking Tumbleweeds

Dec 27, 2012

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.

Clearing the Air

Dec 20, 2012

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.

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.

Swagger and Blink

Dec 6, 2012

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. 

Lucky Hunters

Nov 29, 2012

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.

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.

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.

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.

Sandhill Song

Oct 25, 2012

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.

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.

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.  

When I first met my husband, a field-trained black lab owned him.  Rebel was an intelligent canine with a once in a lifetime personality. The retriever and the man had enjoyed a rustic bachelorhood  at Meade  State Fish Hatchery.  Dog and man led an idyllic life hunting, fishing, and working fishponds located far from town and people.

Early Morning Rambles

Sep 27, 2012

An early morning walk makes you healthy, wealthy in the abundance of nature, and wise in discovery.   It also makes the four-legged family friends very happy.  Karen Madorin is greeted by cardinals, rabbits, and the wide open vistas that bring to mind the smallness that early pioneers may have felt.

The search for gold compelled Spanish conquistador Coronado into Kansas.  Ironically, he found gold more valuable that the metal he hoped to find, but unfortunately did not recognize the value of the gold dust coating his boots and leggings.  Pollen is the essence of life, but without pollinators moving from plant to plant, creatures of every kind would lack fruits, vegetables, grains, and grasses. 

How to Catch a Hummer

Sep 14, 2012

One of Fall's gifts is a migratory visitor to the High Plains.  A hummingbird feeder, some sugar solution, and a little patience brings a  hummingbird outside Karen Madorin's kitchen window.

One-finger city waves typically reflect someone's frustration, but in the country it simply means, "Good to see you."  Waves also reflect acknowledgement, warmth, and  personality.   For example, confident drivers use the pointer finger version, pickup and truck drivers seem to prefer the pointer and middle finger union wave, while some drivers are so relaxed they keep their plam on the wheel, and raise all four or eight digits in unison.   Urban drivers have said one of their favorite things about driving in the wide open spaces is greeting other drivers with a good, old fashioned, country

The dance of the fireflies has a hidden meaning.  The little beacons are signaling they are looking for love, and they are under a time crunch.  With only two weeks to find a mate and propagate, it gives adults new insight into the childhood tradition of catching and putting them in a jar. 

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