Living on the edge of the prairie offers an escape to a place of wonder. Wendell Berry, author and bioregionalist, says, “If you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.”

The largest remaining stand of tallgrass prairie is found in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma. The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation has created the Maps in the Schools project. The maps will hang in the schools of the Flint Hills showing their particular location and, depending on the grade level, speak to some special aspect of the place, the life, the history and/or the science.

Some (and definitely not all) of the folks working on the project are Emily Connell – Director; Annie Wilson – Project Coordinator and High School Program Educator; Pam Collinge – Middle School Educator; Molly Wold – Elementary Educator; John Dunham – Mapmaker; Laura Zimney – Graphic Designer. If you are interested in knowing more about the project, contact the Flint Hills Discovery Center Map and Education Program.

High School Flint Hills Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Illustration

  • Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, High School Map

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Middle School

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project Middle School Illustration

    •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
    • 31” x 17.25” illustration
    • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
      and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall

There are over 50 things to identify in this Middle School illustration. An ID chart will be available in the educational materials that accompany the maps.

Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School Illsutration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Middle School

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools Project, Elementary Illustration

  •  Original Artwork – Oil on Ampersand
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation
    and Nancy Lehenbauer Marshall
Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

The Flint Hills Maps in the Schools, Elementary

  • Print on Paper
  • 31” x 17.25” illustration size on a 48” x 48” map
  • Copyright by The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation

If you would like to support this project, please contact The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation.

Marines in a blasted forest

Marines in a blasted forest

  • Oil on Ampersand Gessobord
  • 11″ x 14″
  • In a private collection

This painting and another painting titled “Vietnam Warriors” have me thinking about war and the hell that it is. Here sit four youths in a bomb crater surrounded by a splintered forest during a day of fighting. Despite the devastation,  Carl Bennett found beauty in the place expressed in this  poem, “Vietnamese Morning”.

VIETNAMESE MORNING
Before war starts
In early morning
The land is breath taking.
The low, blazing, ruby sun
Melts the night-shadow pools
Creating an ethereal appearance.
Each miniature house and tree
Sprouts its, long, thin shadow
Stretching long on dewy ground.
The countryside is panoramic maze,
Jungle, hamlets, hills and waterways,
Bomb-craters, paddies, broken-backed bridges.
Rice fields glow sky-sheens,
Flat, calm, mirrored lakes
Reflect the morning peace.
The patchwork quilted earth,
Slashed by snaking tree-lines,
Slumbers in dawn’s blue light.
Sharp, rugged mountain peaks
Sleep  in a soft rolling blanket
Of clinging, slippery, misty fog.
Effortlessly, languidly, it flows
Shyly spreading wispy tentacles out
To embrace the earth with velvet arms.

Decision makers in our government were not satisfied with destroying land and people one bomb at a time, but resorted to the defoliating herbicide, Agent Orange. Their poor judgment destroyed the lives of the local folks, soldiers and the place.  In “Young Men” Curt Bennett writes about being a Vietnam soldier:

YOUNG MEN
In quiet dignity they trudge
With only the slurping sounds
Of jungle boots sucking mud
As they carry their burden
Of expendable youth at war.
There is a poise about them,
A quality not found in peers,
A bearing common only
To young men in combat.
There is a stoic resignation,
A façade of wary acceptance,
A weariness in their movements
As they slowly walk the war.
Struggling with all its elements,
And inside, struggling with themselves,
For just below the surface,
They keep the well-known secret,
The haunting cowardice common to all.
Twenty-four hours a day they walk the line,
Living up to the reputation,
Assuming the swagger, the hard line,
Their casual indifference to death
That masks that deep seeded fear of dying,
The overwhelming urge to break and run,
The paralyzing instinct to freeze or hide!
Praying silently in secret
That whatever happens they won’t look bad.
And that is why they are at war,
Where they would rather be
Then face the shame of not going,
Of being accused of not having “it”,
To uphold that fragile concept of honor,
With their reputations on the line.
And they proudly carry their reputations,
For that is all that remains of their dignity,
Even if it means they must die for it.
GOOD MORNING

They shuffled down in noiseless file,
Gaunt apparitions whose hollow eyes
Stare blankly out from sunken sockets,
Whose swollen tongues crack scaled lips,
Scab sores ooze pus and swarming flies,
Through dirty, soiled flak jackets.
Assholes flame dysentery, brown fluid trickles
The crouchless trousers where jungle rot
Reddens, chafes and burns with each step.
Ripped jungle boots ring-bleached salt-sweat
Through rotting socks encasing fungus feet
They endlessly plod, gray ghosts of dawn.
Silently they pass, eternal warriors
Towards their unknown, to their death and hell.
Whispering shadows blending with the foggy light
In the ancient ritual of men marching to battle,
Quietly they slide away merging in the bush,
Disappearing into the mist of time.
Copyright, Curt Bennett

Today, many leaders in the US government have forsaken statesmanship for being party politicians, acting on behalf of the party funders rather than to the benefit of the citizenry, the land, the water, the earth as a whole. The big picture which includes the interrelationship of earth’s species and systems is ignored. So we must do what we can, consume less, recycle, grow a garden, plant a tree, study the night sky, breathe deeply, make friends, make peace in our time.

A Family Adventure Part IV

December 28, 2011

Clink on this link Family Marshall Trip Part IV to follow the Marshall family back home for Christmas morning.

  • Watercolor and Ink on Moleskin Watercolor Paper
  • 3.5″ x 10″
  • In a private collection

A Family Adventure Part III

December 28, 2011

Clink on this link Family Marshall Trip Part III to follow the ballooning Aeronauts as they breeze toward the North Pole to help Santa.

  • Watercolor and Ink on Moleskin Watercolor Paper
  • 3.5″ x 10″
  • In a private collection

The family leaves a holiday greeting on the moon.

Clink on this link Family Marshall Trip Part II  to follow the Marshall family into outer space, the moon and back again. But engine trouble detours the family to the North Pole where a jolly ole elf lets them hitch a ride home.

  • Watercolor and Ink on Moleskin Watercolor Paper
  • 3.5″ x 10″
  • In a private collection

Bikes to Canoes, Page

Clink on this link Family Marshall Trip Part 1 to follow the Marshall family through the woods and down the rivers, around the Gulf and the Florida panhandle on a travel adventure. The final panel shows a NASA shuttle blasting off. Guess who is on that ship? Follow their adventures in Part II

  • Watercolor and Ink on Moleskin Watercolor Paper
  • 3.5″ x 10″
  • In a private collection

The Gargoyle’s Visit

March 22, 2010

The Gargoyle's Visit

“The Gargoyle’s Visit” was created with master printer, Mike Sims at the Lawrence Lithography Workshop when it was based in El Paso, TX. This lithograph is an attempt to create an atmospheric, yet naive or childlike drawing to accompany a child’s fairy tale. The lithographs are hand-colored and each is different. In this particular print, the gargoyle is still changing from flesh and blood to stone.

When a print is ordered, you receive a hand colored print, a copy of the fairy tale and a block printed cover sheet with a gargoyle image.

The Tale:

The Gargoyle’s Visit

You should know that in this enchanted country, once every century the gargoyles that sit in the tall castle towers come to life and wander the land. Despite their fierce appearance, the gargoyles aren’t evil. They are the protectors of their villages as well as keen observers. During their centenary nightwalk the gargoyles can decide to re-enter society by choosing someone to take over their watchful guard, someone who would benefit from 100 years of watchful silence.

Garrison Read (G.Read) waits for his next meal while sitting at his dining room table. Outside storm clouds engulf the setting sun, their dark shadows slinking across the fields and forests of the broad valley. Nestled against the darkening forest, a cluster of cottages and shops are dwarfed by an old castle with it decaying tower. Poised on the highest precipice of that weathered tower is a small gargoyle, the village guardian. G.Read resides within that old fortress. At one time he was a generous and happy man, but he, along with the other villagers, had grown fearful and isolated. Decades before a violent incident had embedded fear and suspicion in them, causing their hearts to close along with their doors. Visits between neighbors are short and to the point. The only person G.Read sees with regularity is his housekeeper and cook, Anna Sistant. She arrives after sunrise and leaves before sunset. After dark, there is an uneasiness in the village although the reasons are unexplained. The isolation has caused the old stories of magic and miracles to become faint dreams, so G.Read has little premonition that on this night his life will change forever.

The storm continues to rage through the deserted streets as G.Read sits alone in the castle dining room, having finished another huge meal. There is a knock at the door. Opening it, a wet and dirty dwarf-like man stands and asks for food, “Perhaps just a bit from your table.” The fearful and indignant G.Read shouts, “Away with your!”, slamming the door in the man’s face. Shortly thereafter the storm abates and the castle is enveloped in thick swirls of fog carried on a cold wind. Full to bursting from his meal, G.Read sits the slice of pear on the table and rests his head in his hands as a cold chill runs through his body.

At sunrise, Anna enters G.Read’s castle, but he is nowhere to be found. Her search reveals everything in order: the table set as she had left it the night before, except now sitting upon the checkered tablecloth among the wine, walnuts, pears and cheese, is a curiously familiar gargoyle.

Later that morning Frederick Read (F.Read), a brother of G.Read’s, arrives. A friendly fellow, F.Read asks Anna to plan a banquet for the whole village. Meanwhile, he begins repairing the old stone castle, first by setting the new gargoyle in the sentry position in the tower.

by NLMarshall