Every now and then I stumble across a place that just feels right to me. A place where I could simply sit for hours doing nothing but soaking in everything around me. Today I found just such a place about an hour and a half west of Jamestown.
I headed out in the late morning, my only destination: a place with lark buntings. I had some general directions from one of the local ND birders and so I roared west on I-64. I did stop in the town of Steele to see the world's largest sandhill crane (more on that in a subsequent post). Getting off 64, I ambled north into the dry, rolling prairie of Burleigh County. This was as far west as I've ever been in ND, so it was new territory.
I stopped at a likely spot and as soon as I got out of the car, my ears were greeted with the raspy warbled song of the lark bunting--two males were settling a border dispute. Then I noticed how lovely the land was all around me.
Grassy rolling hills stretched from horizon to horizon. And the bird song, even with the strong wind, was like a symphony. Chestnut-collared longspurs, lark buntings, clay-colored, grasshopper, and vesper sparrows, horned larks, western meadowlarks, marbled godwits, willets, upland sandpipers, and sky-high overhead, a Sprague's pipit.
The weather was still poor for digiscoping, but I remained undeterred, snapping of frame after frame that I knew would be soft.
Small piles of round granite stones were scattered here and there, piled up by farmers during plowing. I chose one pile to photograph and remember, touching the cool stones and wishing I could take them home for the garden or front stoop. The stones seemed to vibrate in my hands.
Despite the cold wind and the occasional drizzle, I spent more than two hours at this spot. I just seemed to resonate with this particular piece of the planet. It wasn't just the landscape, or the birds, or the rocks, or the weather-beaten wooden fence--it was all of that and then some.
It felt so good to be alone in this sacred and magical place. I hope to go back again one day.