Tucked into a cove on the lake stretching into yonder hills is my husband. Herb and his host are bait casting from a boat along the southern shore — two men in a boat drifting across rippling water.
A dragon fly hovers above waves of oats and wild blackberries along a stone outcropping. Barren trees, stark and scrabbly, rise from the lake’s southern shallows. Like olive puffballs on ochre pillows, hackberries, walnuts, and cedars cluster on the hills. Native bluestem grass softens the hill ridges. The horizon stretches in receding horizontal ribbons beneath an azure sky.
A breeze rustles nearby trees. Birds sing in the softened air. A cow bawls in the distance.
Cattle graze along an earthen dam. An abandoned pontoon boat, dry-landed, waits for high water, absent now for four years. In the distance Herb’s fishing rod bends and trembles, then suddenly snaps backwards. A fish has broken free, a rubber worm and hook stuck in its lip.
We are in my husband’s boyhood territory — the Flint Hills of Kansas. Nearby is the Tall Grass Prairie National Park, formerly one of the largest ranches in the United States, the Z-Bar, now 13,000 conserved acres but once more than 80,000 acres.
This morning my husband is at peace with the world. The scene is utterly quieting.