Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Archive for the ‘rural scenes’ Category

Flatland Memory

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I grew up in east central Illinois and flat farmland is something I knew as second nature.

A lot of people think it is boring, which it is, but when you’ve grown up with it and it’s home you naturally have an affinity for it.

Where I live now hardly features much in the way of dramatic terrain, such as mountains and gorges, but it does have it moments.

When I think about the Illinois prairie this is what I have in mind.

I picture a rural road going off into infinity. I see endless fields of corn and soybeans, but not wheat. For some reason there were not a lot of wheat fields in central Illinois when I was growing up.

There is a big sky, but it never seems are large as the sky does in the Western United States.

This image was made near Danforth, Illinois. The railroad tracks in the foreground belong to Canadian National, which owns the former Illinois Central line between Chicago and New Orleans.


Written by csanders429

May 17, 2018 at 8:11 am

What is Around the Curve?

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I had pulled to the side of a country road in Virginia’s Shenandoah to photograph an old and abandoned gas station.

As I returned to my vehicle I looked ahead and saw that the road made a curve ahead.

The open road has always symbolized for me an invitation to travel, if for no other reason that to see what might be down the road or, in this case, around the next curve.

Written by csanders429

August 31, 2017 at 6:55 am

It was Actually Quite Harmless

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I was driving with a friend recently when it began raining. There was no thunderstorm, just rain. I thought this cloud formation looked interesting so I made a photograph of it as we drove along.  With a little imagination, it slightly resembles a funnel cloud forming and descending to create havoc on the ground. But it is just rain falling.

Written by csanders429

August 14, 2017 at 7:23 am

It Won’t Be Long ’till Harvest

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The corn in Midwest fields is as tall as it is going to get this year. The tassels are out and it is a matter of time before the crop matures to a point where it is ready for harvest. That is going to be more than a month from now and close to two months.

Such scenes as this one near New London, Ohio, bring back memories of late summer during my childhood when I lived in the corn belt of central Illinois.

It is reminder that most of summer is behind me and soon it will be back to school time and Friday night high school football games.

Around the time of harvest will be Halloween. Maybe the fun of football games and candy is enough to make up for the loss of  summer.

Written by csanders429

August 10, 2017 at 7:21 am

Storm is a Coming

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I lived in central Illinois for three decades and during that time I saw countless thunderstorms roll in and out. Yet I never once thought to get out and photograph one.

I stumbled across a Flickr page operated by a woman who lives near where I grew up and I have been fascinated with her work in photographing thunderstorms and other weather phenomenon that can easily be seen on the Illinois prairie.

It might look flat and boring to many people — particularly those who don’t live there — but the prairie can yield some dramatic images if you know how to “see” it.

Looking at the work of that photographer has taught me how to see my former home state.

I had just gotten my digital camera when I made a trip back to Illinois. I was driving back to Champaign and could see a thunderstorm brewing off to the west.

I pulled over just outside of Rantoul and got this image. It’s nothing spectular, but is a common sight on the prairie of a storm coming.

I was back in my motel room when the storm actually hit and it was fierce for a while.

I was driving to another hotel to attend a banquet after the storm had ended. I took the long way around, driving through the countryside west of town.

There were some really nice storm light images to be had. But, alas, I didn’t want to take my camera with me to the banquet and left it in my motel room. It was a painful lesson and this image will always remind me of it.

Jogging and Biking on a Rural Road

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Here are a couple of young folks out for some exercise. He is jogging, but she is riding a bicycle. They are headed east on a rural road leading out of the village of Siam, Ohio. It was a beautiful day to be out with mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. That also made a nice day to go make photographs of everyday life.

Written by csanders429

April 13, 2017 at 7:02 am

Despite its Name Abe Lincoln Did Not Live Here

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For a guy who traveled a lot on horseback, Abraham Lincoln sure got around in his adopted state of Illinois.

It seems that just about everywhere you go in the self-proclaimed “Land of Lincoln” you see signs for the Lincoln Heritage Trail. Many communities like to proclaim in their history that Lincoln visited here or Lincoln stayed there.

My hometown of Mattoon, Illinois, has a few of those stories to tell.

While growing up in Mattoon, I made occasional visits to a state park that now goes by the name Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site. Located south of Charleston, we knew it simply as Lincoln Log Cabin.

The name notwithstanding, Lincoln never lived there. In fact he never visited the two-room cabin located there today.

That cabin is a reconstruction that was built in 1935-1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is said to have been built on the site of the original cabin.

The cabin is a representation of the last home owned by Lincoln’s father (Thomas Lincoln) and stepmother (Sarah Bush Lincoln). He did visit them in the original cabin whenever he was in Charleston in the 1840s, the county seat of Cole County, on court business.

Lincoln also owned a portion of the farm where his parents lived although he deeded it to them.

As a child I had a great interest in Lincoln history and living in Illinois was a good place to be for that given all of the Lincoln shrines located there.

Yet when I was quite young it was tough to grasp that Lincoln never lived here and the cabin was a reproduction. That knowledge sank in as my understanding of history became more sophisticated.

I can’t remember the last time that I visited Lincoln Log Cabin, but it might have been in the late 1970s or early 1980s. It might have been on the day that I made these photographs.

Then, as now, the site is a living history museum with people in period dress playing the part of 19th century Illinois residents and members of Lincoln’s family.

The images above are scanned from slides that I created in October 1978.