By Joann M. Ringelstetter
On one of our recent shunpiking journeys, at the break of day, we came upon what we think is a seed farm for prairie flowers. First we saw a field of black-eyed susan, and then further down the road a field of rough blazing star. The sun was just making its way above the horizon and these flowers were glowing bright purple in the early morning light.
Around mid-morning as we came through the town of Edgerton, Ruth spotted an old-fashioned picket fence that totally surrounded a home. Running all along this beautiful picket fence were thousands of black-eyed susans, waving in the cool morning breeze. As I knelt down to photograph this lovely scene, I noticed the bustle of a smaller world. There were bees, beetles, and many other insects busily making their way from one flower to the next.
One of the benefits of driving along the roads less traveled is the chance to drive slowly and take a closer look at the wonders of nature. It’s easy to see the glorious colors of fall when it is in full swing, but there are amazing colors at the end of summer when you stop and move in close. The fruit of the Virginia Creeper vine has some of the most vibrant blues and reds.
Many years ago, in the final year of our mother’s young life, I went for a late summer drive to the Spring Green area with her and Dad. I think that somehow, deep inside, she knew this would be her last chance to experience the seasons in all their glory. As we traveled down the road, she observed the waning of summer with childlike wonder, asking, “Why does everything look so different?”
The trees had not yet begun to transform themselves into the blazing colors of fall. And yet, something was different. The vegetation along the roadside was beginning to dry out and its golden hues were glimmering in the late afternoon sun. I sat in the back seat humbled by the experience of watching her storing snapshots in her mind and heart as I now capture the same with my camera.