A day at Pawnee Buttes ~

Last week a friend and I drove out to Pawnee Buttes, in the Pawnee National Grassland. This is on the prairie in northeast Colorado, not far south of Wyoming and Nebraska. It was a warm but lovely day. The grassland is beautiful: lots of miles on dirt roads; beautiful undulating hills; and the isolated buttes themselves. The only downside is the sheer number of oil and gas facilities out here, along with the accompanying truck traffic. In a time when it’s imperative that we phase out fossil fuels, I was discouraged to see the amount of fracking and other fossil-fuel extraction on this, one of our national treasures.

Fog, frozen, fleeting ~

Trees along I-25

Frozen fog coating trees along I-25

Frozen fog on the plains

A view to the northeast

We’ve had freezing fog the past couple of nights. Here’s what it looked like on the trees and plains bordering the interstate north of Fort Collins, not too far south of the Wyoming border. The sky wasn’t really sunny, and all of the colors were muted. Interstate exits are infrequent on I-25 between north Fort Collins and Cheyenne, and the one that would have worked looked to be blocked by an accident, so I finally pulled off onto the shoulder and shot through the side windows and windshield. Don’t like to do that for photographs, but this was too beautiful to pass up.

Frozen fog

Heading north on I-25

Clouds to the west ~

These were taken yesterday evening in Longmont. The iPhone is not good at handling sunset light. The photo with the tree is pretty true in terms of color, and I was able to color-correct the image at bottom right reasonably well. For the other two I gave up and decided to just enjoy that inky blue.

Triangle ~

Detail, "Triangle," by Kirsten Kokkin

Detail, “Triangle,” by Kirsten Kokkin

This shows two of the three figures in “Triangle” (2005), by Norwegian sculptor Kirsten Kokkin. I think it may be the best work in Benson Sculpture Garden. It’s certainly among my top favorites. The relationships between the figures, as you circle the sculpture, create interesting forms, as in the case of this smaller triangle within the greater triangle.

Kokkin features this sculpture prominently on her website—in what we’d call the nameplate, if we were talking about a print publication—and that seems fitting; I think it’s also the best of her pieces reproduced there. When I looked up Kokkin’s name a couple of months ago, I found that she’d been under fire in 2013 for numerous misspellings on a memorial she’d done to honor Norwegian resistance fighters in World War II. She attributed this to having used English-language spellcheck when she was working on the memorial in America, and not having a Norwegian program available. As a former editor, I cringe to think of misspellings or typos set in bronze. Fortunately, “Triangle” includes no text, and needs none for its eloquence.

 

Gardens of Light ~

In Fort Collins there is a small botanic garden, the Gardens of Spring Creek, that turns on the holiday cheer and becomes the “Gardens of Light” for a few weeks. This Christmas Eve I joined dozens of other people who were walking through the display, where of course plants are the main theme. Here you’ll find giant coneflowers and daffodils and hollyhocks, vegetable plots with pumpkins and chilies and carrots, grapevines, a lily pond, and even Christmas cactuses (though not Christmas cactus). Little kids were running and giggling and adults were snapping photos. It was a bit nippy—exactly 32 degrees—and I was glad to warm up my hands afterward with the car heater. Happy holidays!