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A late Sunday afternoon scene somewhere north of South Shore.
A late Sunday afternoon scene somewhere north of South Shore.
Fawn on the lookout in Esmond.
Fawn on the lookout in Esmond.
Red-headed woodpecker in rural Moody County.
Red-headed woodpecker in rural Moody County.
Duncan church with wildflowers in rural Buffalo County.
Duncan church with wildflowers in rural Buffalo County.
Two whitetails in velvet in a soybean field near Ree Heights.
Two whitetails in velvet in a soybean field near Ree Heights.
A bobolink at Sioux Prairie Preserve near Colman.
A bobolink at Sioux Prairie Preserve near Colman.
Comet NEOWISE above an abandoned church found in Roberts County just after midnight on July 19.
Comet NEOWISE above an abandoned church found in Roberts County just after midnight on July 19.
The view looking north from a back road along the Grant and Codington County line.
The view looking north from a back road along the Grant and Codington County line.
Sentinels from an earlier time at Esmond.
Sentinels from an earlier time at Esmond.
Swainson’s hawk on the Duncan church road in rural Buffalo County.
Swainson’s hawk on the Duncan church road in rural Buffalo County.
Sunflowers and wheat harvest in Hand County.
Sunflowers and wheat harvest in Hand County.
Burrowing owl giving me the what for in Hand County.
Burrowing owl giving me the what for in Hand County.
Sunflowers and abandoned house in Hand County.
Sunflowers and abandoned house in Hand County.
Trumpeter swan with wildflower foreground in Deuel County.
Trumpeter swan with wildflower foreground in Deuel County.
The full swan family swimming away from yours truly.
The full swan family swimming away from yours truly.
Wood lily and prairie phlox in bloom at Sioux Prairie Preserve near Colman.
Wood lily and prairie phlox in bloom at Sioux Prairie Preserve near Colman.
Great spangled fritillary found along a fen southwest of Marvin.
Great spangled fritillary found along a fen southwest of Marvin.
Horses, pasture and clouds as seen from the road south of Strandburg.
Horses, pasture and clouds as seen from the road south of Strandburg.

Sunday Driver

Aug 12, 2020

This summer, I’ve re-acquainted myself with Sunday road trips. And it has been good. Very good. These trips typically, but not always, take place starting in the early afternoon and end as the sunlight is nearly gone. After virtually attending church and then getting the weekly laundry sorted and started, I usually succumb to the familiar, irresistible pull of wanderlust. The thing about a successful Sunday road trip is there is no hard and set plan, just a general direction and maybe a goal or two in mind. Then it’s firing up the F-150, turning into the wind and letting the miles roll away.

On Sunday, August 2 my only plan was to find a sunflower field in bloom. From past experience, I know there are usually sunflowers planted from the Miller area to Pierre and west. Along the way, I stopped at Lake Vermillion Recreation Area in rural McCook County, which is sort of on the way from Sioux Falls to Miller, provided you stay off the interstate. After checking the hillsides there for wildflowers and butterflies as well as working up a nice hike sweat, it was back into the air-conditioned chariot to complete the sunflower quest. I’ve learned that this kind of multiple stop sequence is the best way to break up Sunday drives.

August 2 was one of those perfect blue-sky, white-puffy-cloud-floating-on-by kind of days. If you’ve followed my photography over the years, you’ll know I have an affinity for country churches, and I made sure to stop by a few that I know. Duncan church in rural Buffalo County had a pasture full of yellow flowers across the road to the south which just begged to be framed against the blue sky and white steeple. I obliged. I also encountered a pair of juvenile (and thus relatively tame) Swainson’s hawks on that little detour. One allowed me to take its portrait while looking very hawkish atop a fencepost.

As the afternoon waned, I finally found sunflower fields in the Ree Heights area. I had never traveled the backroads in this part of Hand County and, among other things, was surprised to encounter a pair of burrowing owls along a hilly pasture. The wheat harvest was in full swing, so a light golden haze hung along the ground while the sun blazed away clouds in the sky. It was truly a glorious day. And it was just one of a handful of summer Sunday getaways that have soothed my soul in these somewhat troubled times of 2020. The neo-folk group MaMuse has a song that tells it better than I could, so I’ll leave you with selection of their lyrics as well as a set of photographs from a handful of glorious summer Sundays enjoyed in rural SoDak this year.

Oh what a day! Glorious!
The smell of rain
Has hitched a ride
Upon the wind
I've got good friends
To the left of me
And good friends
To my right
Got the open sky above me
And the earth beneath my feet
Got a feeling in my heart
That's singin'
All in life is sweet

All the clouds
Have gathered round
The tops of trees

Never fear-the birds are singin'
Even endings can be sweet
Oh, what a day!

Christian Begeman grew up in Isabel and now lives in Sioux Falls. When he's not working at Midco he is often on the road photographing South Dakota’s prettiest spots. Follow Begeman on his blog.

Comments

05:13 pm - Sat, August 15 2020
Robert Boone said:
Christian, I sincerely enjoyed your travel log of August 2nd. Your photos were startling so I thoroughly enjoyed your website which I accidentally found while looking at photos of a kayaker/photographer as he paddled Lake Lakota. I am a relative new by to photography so I was looking for some opportunities other than Falls Park. Your work has given me inspiration to “get out there”. Thank you
06:05 am - Thu, August 20 2020
Darcy Miller said:
Thank you, Christian! Thank you for the reminder that we don't always have to "plan" to go "do" something with our weekend time. I have forgotten what's like to just wander with no destination in mind and in the process, "doing" something. Most importantly, the open road trips allow us to just "be". We're going to do just that starting now! Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing.

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