Autumn Alchemy on the Prairies

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Fields of Gold

In autumn, a wonderful alchemy magically turns the green fields of the Canadian prairies to gold. One of my favourite sights as I drive across the land in autumn are the golden fields in various stages of harvest, stretched out as far as the eye can see in every direction, all the way to the horizon. A new colour palette emerges: Indian red, orange, ochre, burnt sienna and gold. Beautifully muted tones of soft buttery yellows, green-gold, yellow-gold, red and sage-green fill the verges. Fresh pale green and golden hay bales dot the landscape. And where there is some woodland, bright cadmium yellow trees stand like upside-down artists’ brushes dipped in yellow paint. Every now and then a flaming red tree in a farmyard stands glorious in golden sunlight. The sky is big and blue and often filled with flocks of migrating birds stretched out in long strings and “V’s”.

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Snow Goose Migration

The 700 kilometre drive across the Canadian prairies I regularly undertake to visit my mother in my childhood hometown in Saskatchewan is always wonderfully eventful—especially when I make the journey in October, because that’s when the Snow Geese migrate. My journey takes me right through the winter migration route of the Snow Geese on their way back south from the Arctic. Aptly named, Snow Geese migrate in huge numbers, and when they land in farmers’ fields, ponds or lakes to rest, they literally look like huge snow drifts (though these “snow drifts” chatter very loudly!).

I came upon the group of Snow Geese in the photograph below resting and feeding in a shallow lake next to a back-country road. I stopped the car to enjoy the glorious sight and sounds of hundreds upon hundreds of Snow Geese forming a floating white blanket upon the lake. I sat quietly, with the windows rolled down, to take in the spectacle. Then, I tried to open the car door as slowly and as quietly as I could so I could take a few shots. But the second I stepped one foot out the door, the entire flock took to the air and I only managed one half decent photo. This photo captures but a small fraction of the incredible numbers of birds I saw that day, but it gives an inkling. The dots of white along the shore in the far background are also Snow Geese. As I continued with my journey east across the prairie landscape, the sky was filled with seemingly endless honking “V’s” of Snow Geese—lines and lines of shape-shifting “V’s” heading south. It is truly something to behold.

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  “Migrations speak to us, not just as observers of nature but as integral parts of it. The world moves and, deep inside, we long to move with it.

~ Mike Bergan

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Image Credits: All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2014 madlyinlovewithlife

10 thoughts on “Autumn Alchemy on the Prairies

  1. Ah, the soft golden colours of autumn! It’s views like these that make my heart soar with emotion :)) I love autumn, and how it’s not just the fiery red & oranges of the leaves. I really miss scenes like these, wide open spaces that seem to stretch as far as the eyes can see…

    The expression ‘fields of gold’ reminded me of this song:

    I first heard it during university years in NY, and the melody has stayed with me.
    Thank you so much for sharing some of your favourite autumn moments with us Jeannie!

    • Thank you, Takami! I do love the subtle colours of autumn. But, I love it all! Truth be told, if I had my druthers, I’d add a bit more red into our colour palette. My partner and I would love to do an autumn trip through the maple forests of Quebec when the red leaves are at their height. I’m looking forward to seeing some photos of your beautiful autumn in Japan–I know you have some trees that turn gorgeous colours. And Eva Cassidy’s cover of Fields of Gold has long been a favourite of mine–and a most appropriate choice for this post! I love it better than Sting’s original recording (though I really like that version too). Thanks for that! Have a great week ahead! :))

  2. You write so deliciously… You can sense the prairie breeze and hear the sounds of the geese taking to the air in unison. Your photography is always gorgeous! Your second photo of the tall grains against the perfect deep blue sky was my fave! You are so fortunate to be surrounded by such colorful landscapes!

  3. Le miracle des couleurs de l’automne, elles sont merveilleuses tes photos,
    surtout celles prises dans le soleil couchant. Félicitations Jeannie.
    Je te souhaite une belle journée. Hervé

    • Merci beaucoup pour votre gentil commentaire, Hervé! Je suis impatient de voir plus de vos belles photos de l’automne peint le paysage de votre belle campagne! En vous souhaitant une semaine très heureux à venir. :)) ~ Jeannie

  4. Autumn is a very special time … your posts are always so good to read. And your photos just great. Thanks for sharing this beautiful part of Canada. Happy thanksgiving Jeannie. A+
    PS: I was on a road trip recently ( just got back on Tuesday)..as soon as I have time I will blog about it….

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