The last couple of weeks I had the privilege to do some field work up in North Dakota. I immediately thought of Fargo when I found out I was leaving. All those "you betcha's" and "don't cha know's" and "I think I'm gonna barf's" from a quirky pregnant cop in one of the best Coen brothers films (perhaps of all time) swam in my mind as I was imagining a barren wasteland of a country. That may be the case in the dead of winter, but my adventure would take place in the tender beginnings of spring. From the moment I peered out of that plane down into the vivid green hillsides, I realized I was in for a visual treat, some stunning eye candy, and I greedily licked my lips...
The topography was incredible. Every morning we'd drive up through the Killdeer Mountains and I desperately tried to affix my eyes to the road to keep from involuntarily gawking at the glory of those contoured beasts.
Photo by North Dakota Tourism/Gerald Blank
I would have hardly called my job "work." I was riding around all day on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) while flushing birds and looking for their grass-cupped nests of paint-speckled eggs and tender nestlings. All the while, finding all sorts of other wildlife.
.My only regret is not taking a picture of a scampering buffalo calf that I glimpsed while driving through. Reminded me of this...
Photo by South Dakota Tourism
And what I took away from this experience was this: a renewed sense of peace, a cleansing of my mind, body, and soul--something that I was not aware that I needed. My job is mostly spent indoors writing technical reports--the exact opposite of why I got into this field. I rarely get to do the field work that I so enjoy and only for a few short months in the springtime. Mostly, I go home, water my garden, and listen to the neighborhood birds -- that's about the only nature I get day-to-day unless I go hiking around Austin on the weekends (or herping at night). But with the temperatures being 105+ lately, I would rather not have a recreational heart attack, thank you.
So the rare chance to be in 70 degree weather was deeply refreshing. I realized that the thing I was solely and soully obsessed with to the core was that beautiful marbled sky. It must be all that clean air, the limited human intrusion, or maybe the location in the northern hemisphere. Whatever it is, I couldn't drink enough of it through my thirsty eyes.
.I'm glad to be back, but I will never forget the impression North Dakota left on me. It grounded me again and reminded me why I love what I do--like meeting up with an old friend I haven't seen in years. Would I recommend it? You betcha, hon!