Donald Bert Cullum Art
Country Life, the Upper Midwest
by Donald Bert Cullum
Life, the Upper Midwest contains 145 photographs, 18 ink pen drawings, and 15
poems orchestrated so as to take the reader on a journey into the country, into
the rural life and values of which so many of us cherish and many more long
for. Turn the pages and let your mind travel to a place where there is a scent
of fresh turned soil, fresh cut hay, sounds of mourning doves, geese, ducks,
and an un-obscured view of the northern lights, sunrises and sunsets.
Several of the poems contained within Country Life, the Upper Midwest include prayers of thanks and praise to our Lord. The poems are arranged among country life photographs and drawings. The poem arrangement is such that the first pomes are simply reflective of rural living but then the following poetry evolves into a deeper more spiritual thought process. Several of the last poems draw the reader into a right verses wrong inner struggle of a story or topic, then leave the reader pondering the similar challenges that we all face every day of our lives. The writer, believes that the majority of those living in the Upper Midwest readily relate to the Christian values that are reflected in his poetry, therefore he believes Christian value poetry has a rightful place in a book that reflects Upper Midwest culture. In November of 2009, South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds apparently agreed in a letter of appreciation regarding Country Life, the Upper Midwest when he wrote "The descriptions, photographs, art, and poetry certainly reflect rural life".
Dec 2009 Jill Page of frugalplus.com wrote in an online review of Country Life, The Upper Midwest "This is one �coffee table� book that I will hold dear for years to come!" The complete review can be read at http://frugalplus.com/country-life-the-upper-midwest-by-donald-bert-cullum-review-giveaway/
Oct 2009, Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel Bishop of Bismarck Diocese writes the following after receiving a copy of Country Life the Upper Midwest; "I knew I had something of great worth in my hands. You have captured many memorable scenes through your camera, your skillful pen as well as your poetic heart that should speak to all who take time to drink of the beauty of our unique buildings, God's land and sky that you have managed to display with great artistry. It is clear that you are greatly gifted and that God will continue to make use of the many gifts he has given you."
Upper Midwest Regional radio personality Trent Loos
praised the book Country Life the Upper Midwest by Donald Bert Cullum on his radio show then read one of the poems from
the book on his show heard in several states and two Canadian provinces.
Oct 2009, McLean County Journal Editor Allan Tinker writes, "It is a book with something for everyone, even a little humor in the raccoons on the mailbox sketch, the cattle crossing photo, and babysitting daddy-style, and the word and phrase mental imagery of the ND state fair."
Sept 2009, North Dakota Governor
John Hoeven writes "Great Job!" expressing
his appreciation of Country Life, The Upper Midwest by Donald Bert Cullum.
The Below poem Rain and the reflection titled Upper Midwest Autumn are excerpts from
Country Life, the Upper Midwest, by Donald Bert Cullum
The cold winter now over, offered so little snow
If we plant now oh Lord, will the seed grow?
Dust billows up when the cultivator discs cut neat rows in the dry soil
The sun yet still weak but within a lunar cycle will be at full boil
Chafe of dirt collected and dried on earlier sweaty creases of skin
The grit of soil in the teeth, eyes red, wait not for the rain, this is my sin
Scan the horizon for the promised clouds, the prayer for rain
Hurry; get the seeds in the ground, no rest through this pain
Hours later still in the field, their eyes meet, climb in the truck, close the door
Water streaks the dirty chin and neck, big gulps of which the body was crying for
Upper Midwest Autumn
Breath the fresh cool autumn air, feel the sunshine warming your skin, warming your very being. Listen as a slight breeze rustles the colorful autumn leaves. A Swanson's hawk stands vigil watch from the top of a fence post. In the distance you hear the honking of geese. The geese are close enough and flying low enough that you can hear their wings rhythmically cut the air as they pass over. A goose honks to its mate, making a noise that sounds closer than it should be, louder than one might expect if you had not heard it before. You watch the geese get smaller as they fly toward the horizon but then slow and circle the nearby wheat stubble, no doubt looking for something to eat and a safe place to land. A few minutes later you hear the rolling, purring noise that only a sand hill crane can make as they communicate while they too fly overhead.
It is autumn. Some of the locals take it all for granted, while others know they are in paradise. Hunters and tourists come from all over the United States to experience the sights and sounds of this fall day. A visit into the local Cafe, or the bowling alley during the thick of the water fowl hunting season is sometimes like walking into a living Cabela's magazine that features hunters from states as far away as Florida, modeling their warm, water proof, camouflage pattern hunting gear. They come here to enjoy the things that we as area residents see and experience every single fall day.
The wheat is in the bin but the remaining short golden straw stands stiff, with a look of velvet softness when viewed from the distance. Large sunflower heads are all bowed in one direction, dark seeds in the middle, surrounded by wilting relatively short somewhat triangular flower pedals that are in various stages of darkening color. No longer bright yellow but now shades of darker yellows and browns. The sunflower stalks strain against the weight of the heads that are now as large as dinner plates, bowing slightly from the weight while the stalk leaves hang withered and dry, shades of darker green and brown.
The cattails are thick, standing in tight but irregular spacing, framing sloughs and pot holes, offering soft colors of browns and tans. The now dry leaves rustle with every breeze. The dark brown cattail seeds holding tight to their cylindrical shape provide one of the many contrasting but natural colors of an upper Midwest autumn that is shared with those who take the time to notice.
The blue sky reflects from the glassy smooth surface of the early morning slough. A muskrat stirs the reflection with its wake as it slowly glides across the surface of the water. The small beaver like creature spends much of its time building and repairing small huts in the shallow water.
Colorful mallard ducks, wood ducks, Northern Pintails, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Scaup, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, and many other species of ducks are content to continue to call these sloughs and pot holes home but will soon join the migration south. Hundreds if not thousands of pretty but unpopular yellow headed and red winged black birds fly past, as they too have started their migration.
As the sun sets the rooster pheasants can be heard sounding out one last cackle before they bed down in the cattails and heavy brush for the night. Deer can be seen in the distance as they venture out in the early evening, looking for green grass, fallen fruit and spilled grain.
The full moon will soon give light to the night while the great horned owl asks Who, who,who, who? Sit long enough and you will hear the coyotes yipping and then howling for a few minutes before they start to roam. How far does one have to travel to experience these sights and sounds? During any given fall, this can all be heard and seen from the edges of many small towns in the Upper Midwest.
The fall fishermen are out in force too. They stay closer to home as the weather cools but there are still many choices for dropping a line. The local kids have named some of the bridges. The bridges with names are of course their favorite summer swimming holes. No doubt at least one of those bridges is framed by overhead power and phone lines that have dozens of lures tangled and hanging from them.
Driving through the nearby country one is sure to notice the remaining magnificently large barns that dot the landscape. These grand structures are a reminder of the proud heritage of those who founded this land and those who have followed.
The rural Upper Midwest is for the most part comprised of a conservative lot and is somewhat sheltered from big city problems including serious crime. There is however still some crime that has to be reported. Not long ago, the police report of which was included in a local newspaper described an incident where a lake cabin flower bed had been vandalized. The suspect was a goat, .said to be a three legged goat. Someone who is not from around here might think that this writing is a reference to some place fictional, some happy made up place like Andy Griffith's Mayberry or Garrison Keillor's Lake Woebegone but no, this is real. This is the Rural Upper Midwest.
Thank you for taking the journey with me.
The above poem Rain and the reflection titled Upper Midwest Autumn are excerpts from
Country Life, the Upper Midwest, by Donald Bert Cullum
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