This Is Real Oklahoma

Sunrise on the Cimarron
Sunrise on the Cimarron

The Cimarron River cuts through the Selman Ranch out west of Oklahoma City, and my blog buddy TR From The Faraway, Nearby and I got out there for a two day trip to scout prairie chicken habitat for the painting I’ll be doing for the Lek Treks and More Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in nearby Woodward. Selman Ranch is a 14,000 acre working ranch with a guest house, lesser prairie chicken leks and an ardently conservationist owner, Sue Selman. The ranch has been in her family for 100 years and she’s working hard to keep it going, to preserve it from development and from the wind power industry that’s encroaching on the hills and ridgetops all around her, fencing in the wide open spaces with giant pickets of spinning turbines.

bluffsIt’s a beautiful, peaceful place. Good for listening to the Western meadowlarks singing far below the bluffs where you stand watching the sun rise and shivering in the February wind. Where deer bounce away with their white tails flipped up as Sue’s pickup truck bounces along the rutted dirt road between the rolling swells of shortgrass prairie hills. Where the threatened lesser prairie chickens still dance on their leks in the spring as they have for eons.

The white stuff on the beach is pure salt; it was blanketed with a thick crust. We took some home to grind up and cook with.
Selman Ranch. The white stuff on the beach is pure salt; it was blanketed with a thick crust. We took some home to grind up and cook with.

Sue is amazingly well-versed in the ecology of her land; she can tell you why a heavy grasshopper year and sand-plum thickets will benefit the quail population, she knows where the snowy plovers and least terns nest, she can show you the exact places where a thousand generations of lesser prairie chickens have stomped down the grass and made themselves a dance-floor. She can take you out to see the spectacular scenery she has kept whole under her good stewardship and tell you the history, natural and human, of this magnificent land. Then end the evening by serving up a rare beef tenderloin with Bernaise sauce that’ll melt in your mouth. This is real Oklahoma.

Patterns of salt on sand, Cimarron River at Selman Ranch
Patterns of salt on sand, Cimarron River at Selman Ranch
Where snowy plovers and least terns nest...
The beauty of a slow, clear river and prime shorebird habitat.

10 thoughts on “This Is Real Oklahoma

  1. zeladoniac says:

    Then, by all means, you MUST come to the Lek Treks and More Festival. It’s in April, put on by the Oklahoma Audubon Society, and held in Woodward. There will be field trips out to the Selman Ranch for lesser prairie chicken viewing. I’m the festival’s Featured Artist and will be giving drawing demos and a presentation. Click on the link and sign up!See you there!

  2. Julie Zickefoose says:

    Now that’s a festival gig–creating a painting for it, doing workshops and talks. Watch out, you’ll be leading field trips, too!
    Glorious pictures. Very cool that you were there at dawn.

  3. gretchen says:

    I have just spent the most delightful morning catching up on your blog and your amazing Amazonian journey and have enjoyed every minute of it! I burst out laughing at the antics of Birdito ( adorable the way he does indeed “putter”!), grimaced my way through the botfly post (but ultimately DID feel compassion for the little bugger at the end!-who would have thought?), and played every single one of the sound clips- I’d close my eyes and just listen to the pure sound of it all, so foreign yet soothing and quite beautiful to my New England ears; I could almost feel the lush green heaviness of the forest air… it was a bit of a shock to open my eyes and see a snow covered world out side my window, a sight I’m sure you remember from your winter here in NH! And of course your artwork (and photos) are breathtakingly gorgeous, as always! I am SO loving seeing this amazing world through your eyes. Thank you so much for all your sharing with us!

  4. jen says:

    I miss Oklahoma. Everyone asks how can you miss Oklahoma when you live in paradise? I think I will need to point them your way so that they will understand. Jen

  5. Amy Adams says:

    I was searching for pictures of the Cimarron river to use for our company facebook page Cimmaron Field Services, Inc. Our CEO named the company after this river and time he spent there when he lived in Oklahoma. I am in charge creating the facebook like page for our company and I wanted to know who I could contact or who I could give credit to for the beautiful picture at the top of the page with the red rocks and river….PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW WE LOVE THIS PICTURE! I will not use it unless I have proper permission or permission at all! Thanks for your help the work is stunning 🙂

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