August 17


Man and his two best friends


A summer evening’s walk puts three friends together in different combinations.  Late in the day, about 8 p.m. a man takes his two friends, (best friends ?) for a walk down Louise Avenue, the street on which I live in Wilton.  I see these three walk every evening, a ritual that is good for all three.

Others walk in the evening, too.  I drove out of my home after photographing the man and his dogs, headed to the highway on the outskirts of town to find three more friends on an evening stroll.  It is one of the most pleasant and healthy rituals these people can adopt.  A small town such as Wilton allows them plenty of room and safety for their ritual.  No gangs, no thoroughfares, no traffic congestion, just a pleasant stroll anywhere in town.

God bless Small Town, USA.

August 8

Oops, almost missed it, the day’s shoot, that is.

Just down the street from me, about 1 or 2 blocks is Wilton’s Centennial Park. It’s always good for a shot because it is quite picturesque.  If you go back in to North Dakota 365, clear back to January, you’ll see a couple of shots of this park in the winter, lonely park benches in the cold and snow.  It’s a handy model.  Actually all  of North Dakota is a handy model — some days more inspiring than others.  Or maybe it’s me.  How do you get inspired?

July 26

Small town suburbia

It could be a scene from any suburb in America.  Moms gathered in the semi-shade while the kids play in the nearby pool.  It’s not any suburb, it’s Wilton.  A small town of 800 people along Highway 83, north of Bismarck.  Life in small rural towns in the Northern Plains is pretty much like life anywhere in America — most of the time.  Winters are legendary. They are rugged, but summers are intense with long hours of daylight for neighbors to gather and do what Americans do in the summer, relax and rejuvenate.  Well, most North Dakotans do, anyway, the ones in town. Their rural cousins are too busy this time of year to spend much pool time, but life in even a small town like Wilton is good.

July 11

Lillies in a vertical row

One of the most peaceful pleasures of home ownership is my flower garden. It’s not very much, but I keep adding to it year after year.  The day lilies in the back are something I hope I live here long enough to see spread in to an entire area behind my house.

I know I like lilies because back home in the hills and valleys along the Des Moines River in Iowa, lilies were a staple. They not only provide a summer-long green along the foundation of a home, they provide a long span of  flowering.  What I remember most about them is how they attracted humming birds.  I’ve never seen one in North Dakota, but have seen them in Lead, SD.

So, here the attraction isn’t the wildlife that flock to the lilies, but their beauty of themselves.  Their strong but delicate and “pretty” look are attractive to me. The  plants withstand the northern elements and climate.  They are hardy and they are delicate.

As a photographer, I like the fade from color to white that the flowers show.  Their long stamens expanding past the attractive  petals of the flower  make them ripe subjects for me to photograph.

June 28

Goldwing and gold wheat

Summer riding season is in full swing — a little later than usual.  The nearby grain field is turning gold as this Honda Gold Wing rolls by.  It’s been a cool wet spring, good for growing not good for going.

Even so, bikes are taking advantage of the weather.  Highway 83 which runs past Wilton gets a good amount of traffic. It’s a good road connecting Bismarck to Minot and points in between.  A late evening ride, this time of year, could be as late at 9:30 or 10:00 thanks to the tilt of the Earth on the axis toward the sun, and North Dakota’s relative position on the globe and on the time zone line.  That means even though the season is short, the days are long, and bikers take advantage of it.

It’s just about every day that I’m out for my 1-a-day pics that I see bikes on Hwy 83, but this time, the light, the fields and the evening proved to be a better than average day for photographing motorcycles.

June 11

running the bases

A neighborhood game of tball at the local ball diamond is reminiscent of days gone by when whole neighborhoods of kids would get together to play ball at the school ball diamond, kinda like Spanky and Our Gang.  In this case it appeared to be a couple of baby sitters getting their charges out for some exercise and fresh air.

Almost tagged out

At least the teams were divided evenly, one big kid and one little kid — and they didn’t even have to stand to get picked to  a side. They just were divided up two on a side.

T-ball bunt

I used to shoot a lot of sports when I was a newspaper editor. Haven’t done it much for the last 5 or 6 years, but this was fun if not unpredictable.

Swing and a miss

Who’d have thought to bunt a t-ball?

And I don’t even know if they counted the strikes, but he didn’t care. He was having fun!

June 2

Rabbits and dandelions.

Remember that rabbit who moved in to my backyard? I introduced her to you a few days back here on ND 365.   I noticed she’s got a bit of a wound on her face, it appears.  Life in the wild, especially for rabbits can be tough.

Did she run in to something?  Was it an offensive attack?  Does she have  mange and is losing her fur?  Rabbits can carry nasty bacteria and parasites.  I wonder if that’s the problem.  But she still looks healthy, anyway.

And not just rabbits have invaded my yard, but so has the annual crop of weeds including dandelions.  They’re actually kind of pretty, but they can sure take over a yard and turn it in to a mess.  So, every year, I’m cutting, pulling and spraying to keep them down.

I hate it when they turn to seed because each one of those seeds represents a new battle next spring.  Has anyone come up with a good way to control the springtime crop of dandelions?

May 30

Aw, isn’t she cute!  She took up living in my backyard. I watched her all day as she burrowed in to the soil and then carried grass to the burrow and covered it to hide it.  I attempted a few times to get a shot,  this one worked.

She had to get used to me, or at least figure out I was going to keep my distance — or that my telephoto was sufficient to get her portrait and still keep my distance.

I don’t know where is the back door to her hutch.  I don’t know if she’s using that and not this door. Or if she’s moved on, but I’ve not seen her for quite a while.  So, I just mow right over the hole in the ground, careful not to disturb it.

May 26

Entrance to history

This has been my most exciting photographic find of the year!  And even better, to find it during the “golden hour” when colors take a shift to the warmer yellow and when the skies are clear and the contrasts are high.  I love this photo.

This is the long-abandoned Wilton Coal Mine site.  In 1920,  this was the largest lignite coal mine in the world.  Some 400 miners worked underground here digging coal which was shipped east on a rail line that later became the Soo Line Railroad. 

As I’m prone to do in the evening, I jump in my pickup and head out on the back roads of  Central North Dakota.  Often I take section line roads — when the weather hasn’t been too wet — to see things from my truck that I don’t see from the main roads.  You know those section line roads, two-wheel tracks through grass, between fields, around mud holes.  In this case, I was on a section line road when I saw a tall yellow structure out on the prairie.  I swung back around the section to come in along the road that passes near this site.  I admit and apologize now to the landowner that I trespassed to get this shot and the closer shot of the entrance.

Now, instead of mining coal, I’ve mined tons of history from this defunct business.  The Wilton Coal Mine was responsible for settling much of this area. It’s the reason there is a railroad through here.  It’s the reason Wilton and for a large part, Washburn, Regan and Baldwin were established.  When  the Depression came,  coal prices couldn’t pay for shipping and mining.  The Company had to cut back on production and costs.  Some of the fringe benefits such as housing for workers were also affected.  Miners rebelled.  The United Mineworkers union shut down the mining operation.  The Company went as far away as St. Louis to hire non-union help.  The union boss John Lewis got involved.  An armed standoff divided Wilton’s Main Street. Governor Nestos called in the militia to stand down the center of Wilton’s Main Street to prevent the two sides from shooting each other.

In the end, the Union broke the back of the company and the mine was closed.

May 16

rodent rummaging in refuse pile

Ah that little rascal. He’s been getting in to my garage for some time now, but this is the first time I saw him. I’m gonna make sure I keep my garage door closed.  Yeah, I know they’re cute and fun to watch, but they need to stay outside.

I often wonder how squirrels got in to prairie towns such as Wilton.  Squirrels’ natural habitat is trees and Wilton is far from any treed area such as the Missouri River.  It’s probably 7 miles from the river.  So what did it take to get a squirrel couple to move to Wilton across 7 miles of prairie to establish a family here and to spread their offspring through the community?

Come to think of it, are there squirrels in every town?  Is there any town anywhere that does not have squirrels?