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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Return of the Rainy Season (An Oasis in the Badlands)


Badlands National Park, in southwest South Dakota: photo by Carol M. Highsmith, September 2009 (Library of Congress)

tears water the dry fields of memory

Abandoned farm south of South Heart, North Dakota, Little Badlands in background: photo by Paul Carter, August 1936 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Dry and parched earth in the badlands of South Dakota: photo by Arthur Rothstein, May 1936 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Badlands, Williams County, North Dakota: photo by Russell Lee, October 1937 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

An oasis in the Badlands (Oglala man, Red Hawk, with horse drinking at an oasis): photo by Edward S. Curtis, c. 1905 (Edward S. Curtis Collection, Library of Congress)


Anonymous said...

Briefly (a good thing for me), seeing the procession backwards of these images through various eyes and lenses moves me a lot. It awakens thoughts and excites (though it's mostly a sad excitement) my imagination. Like any American, I think I've carried the name and an image of Badlands in my mind since I first heard it mentioned. I know that every other culture probably has an equivalent sign. Seeing images of deep space and Earth from space today brought all sorts of textural memories to the front of my brain. So did (and don't ask me how I gone onto this particular track) downloading photos of black truffles. The Badlands geology reminds me of those (the truffles, mainly) also.

TC said...


From outer space the Badlands may well look like truffles for all we know. Completely familiar stuff, to whoever or whatever's Out There.

But that steer's skull, and Red Hawk with his thirsty horse... they might be scratching their antennae a bit, over those.

(I've been laid low by a recurrence of pneumonia, on old un-friend, and the fevers that come with it may have influenced the recent image searches, I'm afraid... to the febrile brain, the whole world has a way of looking very Badlands-ish...)

Marcia said...


Thank you for "Badlands" and "Return to Rainy Season" - reminders of the land I come from, the land of both pleasureful and painful memories. I love the South Dakota Badlands, no matter how the light makes them look - pale or deep and rich in color, so much the soul of everyone.


TC said...


Of course I thought of you with these, as I always think of you when I think "Dakotas".

My experience in that area was the brief but intensive and extremely educational land-survey with E.D. in March 1979.

There is a bit of "hidden" personal history for me beneath these stark landscapes... my maternal grandfather migrated with his family from County Kerry to South Dakota, and he grew up there, before moving on to Chicago to meet his wife and make his life.

A single photo remains from that epoch, it's in our daughter's possession now and I haven't seen it in many years...

Who knows where the time goes. But the land remains.