My drive to work is 45 minutes each way over back roads in mostly wide open spaces and corn fields. The winds can be fierce in the winter months creating white outs with less than an inch of snow on the ground. Ground outs are also common – at least that’s what I call them. The roads can be icy and hazardous when the wind swept fields dump the snow onto the road. When it is foggy, it is really foggy. Open fields create very dense fog and as it is the country, at night it is especially hard to navigate as the only ambient light comes from the occasional house, many of which are hidden far off the road.
There are times I think I am in a different world. There seems to be a point where in an instant, normal winter driving, or a foggy day/night, becomes a treacherous, travel at your own risk, kind of world. Those I work with have a difficult time understanding when I explain my drive. Those not living in the country, really have no concept. Although the town I work in isn’t a Chicago size city, to me, it IS the city. The traffic congestion, endless shopping malls, gas stations, mini-marts and fast food places are to this “country girl”, the city! Weather in this area is a far different scenario than weather where I live.
I live 1/8 of a mile from the Illinois/Wisconsin state line in a small farm community of less than 10,000 residents. It is 50 acres of former pasture. The top of the driveway is one of the highest points in the county offering some expansive views. It is quite beautiful, not to mention peaceful and very quiet.
There is a small creek that runs through the property and believe it or not, it flows north! On the property is a large field of Natural Prairie as well as over 40 species of Wildflowers. These types of areas are becoming more and more rare in the state. There seems to be a ‘plague’ of building on any open green area that is quite disturbing. I suppose some call that progress, I call it ugly. I love that all around me are other properties of 10 to hundreds of acres; hopefully none of it will be sold in my lifetime, or for quite some time to come, to ‘urban sprawl’.
Because of the wide open spaces, sound travels for miles. As freight trains approach crossings some 5 miles away, their whistles can be heard breaking the silence of the night. I lay in bed listening as they pass through neighboring towns. There is nothing more soothing than the rumbling sound of locomotive engines, the clickety clack, clickety clack as they make their way across the country. It is one of my favorite sounds to be sure.
There is however, another sound that shatters the night that is my least favorite. The eerie sound of the group yip-howls and barks of coyotes piercing the solitude. This can sometimes go on for over 10 minutes. The frenzy of their insistent yipping is perhaps one of the most disturbing sounds.
Deer come to visit on a regular basis. As do the unwanted squirrels, raccoon and skunks. Occasionally there are fox to be seen lurking further afield. Even rarer, is the wolf but so proud and regal when he is seen.
The property I live on as well as my commute to work affords many photo opportunities that I will be sharing with you over time. And yes, some of these photos are taken while driving – I do however, slow down 🙂 Why don’t I stop? You can see there is very little traffic if any many times. I did stop one night and out of nowhere, a Sheriff appears and wants to know if there was any trouble. Go figure! I just find it easier to slow a bit from 60 mph to snap a photo here and there – which also explains why some are not the clearest – LOL
Let’s start with Storm Clouds shall we? You can also get a feel for the area that I drive through, the open spaces that I talk about.