A Gift: Life Blood From The Sky

We can only imagine the overwhelming fear and helplessness that was felt by those ancient peoples who lived on the plains of the Americas some 6,0000 years ago when the rains no longer came and great dust storms enveloped the land for almost 1,000 years. It is known as the great drought of late paleo era and we think that such catastrophes can no longer affect our lives in these modern times.

So often my mother and father related stories of the depression years to me, relating the tales of hunger, of deprivation and hardship faced by so many. They told of the great dust storms of that dust bowl era and how the clap board houses allowed the dust and wind to infiltrate to such a point that wet rags were placed over their faces in order to breathe without inhaling the suffocating dust. They told of those desperate days when the government men came to buy cattle for 6.00 per head and then proceed to kill them all on site before the grim reaper called starvation took its final toll. Those were hard times and, like the millenniums before, it seemed that the rains would never come.

Once again during the 1950’s, when I was only a child, the tentacles of yet another drought held the land in its miserable grip and the old timers had to once more endure the hardships brought on by wind, dust and lack of adequate moisture. I remember bits of those years but not enough to cause apprehension later on when the threat of hard times hung heavy over the land.

In the late 1990’s I got my first taste of a real drought and the full appreciation of just the fragrance of moisture became a cherished gift. Again, like in earlier decades, the wind blew and the dust was ever present and, like a half century and before, the sky refused to share its gift of life.

It is now over a year into our current drought, touted by some to be the worst in over a century, and again I look in ernest to the sky and pray that its bounty will be offered in time to save men and women who have invested literal generations of work in establishing a life and identity for their beloved families. I said several times in the late 90’s that I would never complain again about too much rain and I have held true to that promise. And when the rains finally came on October 7, 2011 and filled the dry stock tanks with a life blood we so often take for granted, I stood at the edge of an old desiccated cattle tank, with the skeletal remains of a dead cow sunken in the cracked mud, and thanked God for his generous offering in this gift of life called rain.

Rain is ignited by the light of a setting sun over the west Texas mountain scape. Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f4.0L lens. ISO 100 and handheld.

 

Enjoy my celebration here of rain and the beautiful phenomenons that signify the coming or passing of this life blood and lets not make the mistake of ever taking it for granted as an entitlement that we deserve, but instead consider it a gift that is so generously offered from our ocean above.

Monsoon rains bring the gift of life to this desert mountain stream in the Del Carmen mountains in Northern Coahuila, Mexico. Hasselblad 501CM with Zeiss 50mm Distagon f4.0 lens. Velvia 50 ISO film. Manfrotto tripod with Manfrotto 486 ball head.
A vibrant rainbow reflects the last light of day over Lake Tanglewood near Amarillo, Texas after an evening rain shower. Canon EOS 1N and Canon 16-35mm f2.8L lens. Velvia 50 ISO film and handheld.
A great storm offers its bounty of rainfall upon the expansive rangeland in Cottle County, Texas. Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f4.0 lens. ISO 100 and handheld.
A fantastic display of light upon a great storm promises rainfall over a portion of the rolling plains. Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f4.0L lens. ISO 100 and handheld.
A war in the sky at sunset signifies the end of another thunderstorm that has expended it allotment of rain on the land below. Canon F1N and Canon 14mm f2.8L lens. Velvia 50 ISO film and handheld.
Isolated thunderstorms miles away gives a sliver of life blood to this dry river bed in Knox County, Texas. Within minutes this "head rise" will increase to a depth of several feet, once more giving life to a previously dry and desolate stream bed. Canon 1D Mark IIN and Canon 16-35mm f2.8L lens. ISO 100 and handheld.
Rainfall has tamed the fire hazard of this lightning bolt in the Davis Mountains. Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 24-105mm f4.0L lens. ISO 100 and using a Manfrotto tripod and Manfrotto 486 ball head.

9 comments

  1. Louise says:

    Wow. I do some amateur photography and I KNOW how difficult some of this lighting is. You have done a magnificent job! Good on you!

  2. RHDamerau says:

    You have the eye, the art and the skill of a great photographer. Very well
    done. My hardy congratulations . . and appreciation!

  3. Debbie Steffens says:

    Your photographs are amazing. You are living my dream of being a photographer. I have been taking pictures for years, but have been getting more serious about it the last few. I have entered a some in our county art show and have received some very positive feedback;from the judges, John and Bettye Hope of Levelland, and others in the community. I thank you for the invitation to your workshop in Albany. I hope that I will be able to come to the next one. I need to learn about what lenses and settings to use. I really like your paint with light photographs. My favorite are the landscapes with storm clouds. Thank you for sharing.

  4. dougsmith says:

    Wyman Meinzer is to photography what Willie Nelson is to songwriting!!! Only the “GREAT CREATOR”…understands everything…we’re all just fortunate to be here to witness!!! Thanks Wyman & Willie…for givin’ us all a “Breath of Heaven”…and by the way…Wyman & Willie are both Texans…imagine that!!! doug smith/piano player/West Texas.

  5. Troy Lily says:

    Wyman – I, too, was just a lad during the 50’s so I don’t remember too much about that drought except for the bad dust storms. But an old rancher here in Scurry County once told my pastor something I will remember forever. He said, “Son, it’s always dry in West Texas. Sometimes it’s just drier than other times.”

    Thanks for the way you use your talent and for all the hard work you put into it.

    Troy Lilly
    Texas Tech – Ag Ed -1971
    Texas Tech – Plant and Soil Science – 1989

  6. Gail Pregent says:

    I born born in Lubbock in the 50’s and most of my family were cotton farmers (we lived in the city). Hours, day, and months spent with my siblings and cousins at my grandparents small farm and at the farms of aunts and uncles, made me keenly aware of the beauty of everything from dirt clods to storm clouds. I have lived near the ocean, and in the Colorado mountains, but it is the flat lands of West Texas that pull at my heart strings. A place where you can actually see the sun ‘go down’ and ‘come back up'; unobstructed, gloriously colorful, and ultimately real. Storm clouds rolling in, dust storms enveloping you, trips to the earthen storm cellar when tornadoes appeared in the distance…eclipses of the moon with no lights to distract the beauty of the sky…..so many images burned in my memory. Thank you for the reminder of West Texas ‘life’. Sadly to say, the farmers in my family have passed away. But the lessons learned, from folk who worked the land and raised the animals, live in my blood and are photographed in my mind. Blessings to you and to Doug Smith.

  7. Jack Feild says:

    Born in Brownsville 1947,I remember the 1st. time I saw rain. Curently in Florida. Climate is similar,but not the people or the land. It was like a letter from home to see such beauty as only exists in the Lone Star State and even then only for brief moments. Truly amazing. I feel truly blessed to have the honor of viewing these fabulous photos,or more properly put,WORKS OF ART. Please continue with your fabulous work.

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