{ Wildland Magazine }

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hey look, a magazine! A beautiful magazine! It’s called Wildland.

It speaks to me! Perfect title, flawless design. The cover explains its essence, and I was hooked as soon as Stack shared its newest cover this morning.

Here’s what I found from further research (because beauty like this deserves a full going-over):

  • It’s independently published by one guy out of the UK. His friends help. They split the proceeds, if there are any.
  • It features lots of landscape and documentary photos (breathtaking photos!) from EVERYWHERE, anywhere wild! Slovenia, Scotland, Oregon!
  • It’s stupendously gorgeous.
  • It’s printed on A5 paper, or 5.83″× 8.27″. That’s mostly due to printing costs, but they flipped the narrative to say, “it’s a tough little book to accompany you on your travels.” Easy sell.
  • Each issue has a theme, such as “Natural Connection,” “Escape,” and “Lifestyle.”
  • The first two digital issues are free, the newest one costs $2.55. I feel like I want to hold the book, pore over the images, and pass it around to friends. But that would cost me $12, plus shipping. For now I’ll share the link.
The sparse design of Wildland magazine leaves plenty of room for interior thought and reflection.

The sparse design of Wildland leaves room for interior reflection and stirring-of-spirits.

What’s phenomenal about this little journal is how cohesive each issue feels. Not only do the photographers achieve consistently lofty, spirited outdoors shots, but the design never wavers from story to story. So despite a diversity of locations, each setting fits into the greater theme, almost without trying. And when they do try, with written words, I find it hard to focus because the images themselves are captivating enough. Apt, then, that the first issue should feature this quote:

“I don’t think I’ve ever yet, in any of my books, described a landscape. There’s really nothing of the kind in any of them. I only ever write concepts. And so I’m always referring to “mountains” or “a city” or “streets.” But as to how they look: I’ve never produced a description of a landscape. That’s never even interested me.”

– Thomas Bernhard from “Monologe auf Mallorca” Interview, 1981

So hey. Go check out this magazine. You’ll find deers and mountains and streets, and as you observe, you can write your own description. You also might want to bolt out the door and into the wild. Let me know what ends up happening.


{ The Prairie-Grass Dividing }

April 14, 2014 § Leave a comment

THE prairie-grass dividing—its special odor breathing,
I demand of it the spiritual corresponding,
Demand the most copious and close companionship of men,
Demand the blades to rise of words, acts, beings,
Those of the open atmosphere, coarse, sunlit, fresh, nutritious,
Those that go their own gait, erect, stepping with freedom and command—leading, not following,
Those with a never-quell’d audacity—those with sweet and lusty flesh, clear of taint,
Those that look carelessly in the faces of Presidents and Governors, as to say, Who are you?
Those of earth-born passion, simple, never-constrain’d, never obedient,
Those of inland America.

— Walt Whitman

{ Sandhill Cranes on the Platte River }

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment




Words can’t describe the sky-splitting sound of ten thousand cranes taking flight at one time. Pictures can’t really, either*, but if you get the chance to see one of nature’s greatest shows, it’s definitely worth the trip. These photos were taken from a blind at Rowe Sanctuary. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Kearney’s giant calzones }

April 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Let’s start from the end of the day, when Andrea uttered, “I am going to tell my grandchildren about this calzone.”

The most unassuming restaurant I think I've ever seen.

The Flippin Sweet. Pretty sure it’s in an old garage.

As journalists and lovers of rock music, we were obligated to order the “Almost Famous.” Pretty sure it’s the best calzone I’ve ever had. Or best food I’ve ever had? I’d post a picture, but this isn’t Midwest Living, and we ate it all in five minutes. “If you were a baby, you would fit in the calzone,” says Andrea.

Anyway, to her credit, after the calzone she did add, “and the cranes,” rather quickly.

Because that’s why we’re really here. To see the Sandhill Cranes staying over near the Platte River. Us and dozens of these other suckers:

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

This is my third year in a row to see the cranes, but the first time I’ve planned a trip myself. First, I went with a group of journalism students, and last year I went with ornithology students. Now I’m with my Grampa Marty and good good friend Andrea. Very different experiences. I should write a guide book.

I'm fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa's company.

I’m fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa’s company. Although he does tease us quite a bit.

I knew they wouldn’t judge me if I royally messed up plans, and I needed someone to write down our bird list!

Thanks, AK!

{ Not pictured: } our hike around the Eastern Nebraska Platte River Preserve Native Prairie Nature Trail. (That’s a mouthful. They could work on marketing.) Anyway, I’ve been following Chris Helzer’s blog, “The Prairie Ecologist” for several months and was excited to see some of his work. Even though it’s April, and you kind of have to poke around in the grass to see green things.

Also, there’s a great Vietnamese/Thai restaurant on 4th Street in Grand Island, Nebraska. But what is this, Midwest Living? I’ll shut up now.

Can you tell I’m tired? I’m writing like Ernest Hemingway. We’re waking up in four hours to go to the blinds at Rowe Sanctuary. Those birds better appreciate it.

{ February: Osage County }

February 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

The Flint Hills called me back.

I know, so soon? This time, I drove to Pawhuska, Oklahoma. More cow herds and oil derricks than Kansas, but still, gorgeous country.

Sidenote: Today I discovered that I’m not alone in my Flint Hill love: William Least Heat-Moon (another Missourian, of Blue Highways fame) wrote a book called PrairyErth (A Deep Map): An Epic History of the Tallgrass Prairie Country.

Angela, my extraordinary Couchsurfing host and Pawhuska tour guide.

Angela, my extraordinary Pawhuska host and tour guide. She made me walk across the scary swinging bridge.

This trip was mostly business, no buffalo. However, I was lucky to land an extraordinary Couchsurfing host named Angela. In addition to enlightening me on the town name’s pronunciation (mnemonic device: the high school mascot is the Husky — Pawhuskies!), she showed me cool things to do in Pawhuska and took me to a couple of her favorite spots in town. It felt like I was let in on a secret, so we’ll keep it that way for the most part. The one bummer was that so many businesses were closed on President’s Day. The bright side is that it’s an excuse to come back.

{ Things to Do in Pawhuska, Oklahoma }

  • Visit the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve. Bluestem and buffalo, a winning pair!
  • Go antiquing! My favorite was The Twisted Bronc, and I’m not just saying that because Angela runs it. It’s well curated, and her mother sells a lot of her own leatherwork. Two other shops, Comin’ Home Again Antiques and Sister’s Attic, were both pretty nice. I also wanted to check out Osage Outfitters and Clifton’s, which purports to carry a lot of local art.
  • Gawk at Ree Drummond’s new studio in downtown Pawhuska. I wish I had realized this was the same person who gave me the phrase, “whatever makes your skirt fly up” and whose chicken salad recipe I follow religiously. I might have paid more attention. At any rate, everyone I spoke to seemed very excited for the extra tourism her Food Network show might generate, and I’m excited about chicken salad.
  • Eat at The Prairie Dog, a gourmet hot dog shop. Which is fascinating.
  • Explore the Osage Nation Museum. A stunning array of photographs, sculptures and artifacts. Just don’t be a jerk like me and try to take pictures. (In my defense, I did not see the sign!)
  • Walk downtown to see beautiful murals, statues, and other fine details.  An oil boom in the 70s gave rise to beautiful, tall brick buildings, worked around much older stone structures that were early Osage governing sites. Boom became bust; the tall buildings emptied out. From what Angela and others say, there’s been a slow burn of businesses establishing themselves inside the town over the years. See also: the Catholic church, which has gorgeous stained glass filled with local history. Pawhuska is worth a day’s trip at least.
  • Visit Osage Hills State Park or Bluestem Lake. I didn’t see either one for much time, but it was lovely scenery.

I wish I had more time with Angela, because she seems like a really fun, deep-thinking lady. She told me, “I have more of a life in little Pawhuska than I did in Tulsa,” and I can believe it. Small towns bring people closer, especially if you have a group of outsiders intentionally living in a place like that. Same mindset, you know? They want to live there. They go to football games and benefit dinners and make hikes into adventures. A really inspiring bunch.

I’ll leave you with some wisdom from one of those secret spots:

Well if you insist...

{ Also }

Snow Geese!

“Flying Green–we’re not there yet…” and “Driving Green-Running on algae?” in Global Business Travel magazine

{ Flint Hills in Kansas }

February 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

I haven’t been genuinely surprised in a while. Then I saw the Flint Hills in Kansas.

Call me state-ist, or maybe suggest I go west of the 94th meridian west once in a while. That’s fine. Probably true, given how I’ve always conceptualized Kansas:


srsly. Original art © Tina Casagrand, all rights reserved.

Have you ever said or thought something so completely asinine that you deserved to be punched? That—the punch, that is—was this scene, driving to Wichita southwest from Kansas City a couple evenings ago:

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user by TJ Morton.

WTF, Kansas? What are you hiding? This is funny because I say I love prairies. I’ve even planned trips out to Kansas with my boyfriend, who hails from more easterly origins, and is thus more deeply awed by such expansive landscapes. And I’ve heard  of the Flint Hills, sure. But that ultra-flat, sunflowers-and-corn idea was so ingrained, it blinded me to my very not-flat neighbor.

I started to notice a change in landscape right before a Flint Hills welcome sign. Knobby peaks, brittle chert, tall grass that’s ribboned like sandstone. This week, ponds and jagged creeks were frozen, and the last shreds of a late-winter snow hung onto north slopes. Only scribbled tree limbs broke those subtle striations.

Well, that, and one “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” billboard. Gag.

A good reminder that you can tell a person about beauty a million times, but there’s no substitute for seeing it first-hand. And that, if I’m going to advocate for “flyover country,” I, myself, need to hack away at those preconceived notions. Here’s an essay on that idea of nothing, told through the Flint Hills. « Read the rest of this entry »

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