Sunday, April 29, 2007

Quiet Beauty

Author, William Least-Heat Moon, memorialized Kansas’ Flint Hills in his bestselling book, PrairieErth. But those who consider only majestic mountain peaks or shell-strewn beaches beautiful may initially have difficulty comprehending its subtle beauty. A trip to the Flint Hills can change all that.

Located approximately two hours southwest of Greater Kansas City, the Flint Hills create a slowly undulating, cow-dotted landscape, where prairie grasses and cultivated fields stand side-by-side. Old-growth oaks, elms and walnut trees accessorize the land. Here coyotes meander and buffalo graze near winding dirt and gravel roads.

Sundown sets the sky on fire, wildflowers grow profusely and the star-laden canopy seems to go on forever. In springtime man ignites fires across the hills, a decades-old tradition that simultaneously clears dying vegetation and paves the way for new growth.

When winter takes hold peaceful beauty wraps the landscape. Boots crunch through several inches of snow, snapping twigs along the way, and wildlife tracks appear as frequently as human tracks do. An occasional hawk soars and swoops overhead, his raucous cries piercing the quiet. For a brief moment, time stands still.