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Snowy Egret, Vol. 75, #1
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Morning Comes to Elk Mountain

The Wichita Mountains exhibit some of the oldest exposed granite in the nation. The uplift occurred hundreds of millions of years ago, long enough for wind and water, freeze and thaw to sculpt the phantasmagoric rock formations that rise several hundred feet in stark contrast to the surrounding plain.

Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma by Iris Greenwell
Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma
by Iris Greenwell

At daybreak a row of cottonwoods along a stream greets the sun with rim ice gleaming like polished silver where fog still clings to upper branches and twigs. Overhead a flock of Canada geese have abandoned their overnight quarters on some nearby lake to fly low and noisily to a winter wheat field and breakfast.

Ledges along streams, especially in the canyons that see little sunlight this time of year, wear belated Christmas ornaments. Icicles from several inches to several feet long dangle from places where water drips. Below the ledges are frozen waterfalls holding back frozen riffles and waves.

Foggy Winter Day at Bear Lake
Foggy Winter Day at Bear Lake
by Iris Greenwell

Morning Comes to Elk Mountain

Dispatches from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
by Gary Lantz
University of North Texas Press, 2013

"In many ways October is as near to perfection as life gets here on the weather-challenged Southern Plains. The heat of summer has faded, January's chill is still months away. October rains refresh the grass, refill the streams, and bring wildflowers back for an encore."

Structured in the form of a journal with entries stretching across the course of a single year, this narrative incorporates the author Gary Lantz's ten years of observations in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge of Oklahoma. It begins with a January walk through Styx Canyon, an improbable wilderness amid geometrical wheat fields and county road grids, and concludes along the headwaters of Medicine Creek with largemouth bass, a mature golden eagle, migrating mountain bluebirds, and one of the refuge's signature buffalo.

Established in 1905 in order to reintroduce buffalo to the plains and save the species from extinction, the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is one of the nation's oldest. It lies in the southwest corner of Oklahoma and includes the Charons Garden wilderness, Bat Cave Mountain, Fort Sill, Osage Lake, Medicine Bluffs and Mount Sheridan.

A native Oklahoman and local feature writer, Lantz demonstrates an obvious affection for the place and a depth of knowledge that he's eager to share. His "dispatches" are personal, poetic, and perceptive.

Stately American Bison Graze Beneath Gold-lined Clouds
Stately American Bison Graze Beneath Gold-lined Clouds

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Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau

Voice Out of the Past


All The World Over
All The World Over

John Muir
Wichita Mountains in Lawton by Iris Greenwell
1958 Sinclair Oil Print Ad:
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma