Escaping into the wild — tamely

Before the sun beat down in its fury Sunday afternoon, came a “window” of cloud cover. The overcast sky allowed us to venture out like in some science fiction movie where humans are averse to daylight, except in our case it’s the blasted heat.
Stealthily, we fled into the wild, where we careened down a shaded path through fields, over streams and defied our limits by racing alongside wildlife taken by surprise. We were on the Prairie Spirit Trail — a jewel of a gift from our beloved Kansas.
A simple bike ride yielded sightings of deer, baby rabbits and some kind of big bluish-grey birds — perhaps blue geese — near the Carlyle rest area.
Most rides we see plate-size turtles, a snake or two, plenty of lizards, scads of butterflies and birds, and sometimes people.
We’ve seen trees branch out since spring, wildflowers bloom and fields mature with corn and soybeans. We bellow, “moo” to the nearby cows. And we stop to marvel at the ever-changing hues of the prairie landscape. How can there be so many shades of green.
If August plays on cue, the grasslands will be bleached to browns and we’ll think back fondly to the lushness of today.
For us city folk, the countryside has never been so accessible. This trail that follows the old railway gives us a glimpse of rural life and its strong pull. It’s our chance to get off the beaten path — something you say you’ll always do when driving down the highway, but never take the time to do.
This summer, make a point of buying a rail trail pass that gives you passageway for the year at about the cost of seeing a movie. The Web site of the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is a convenient access point. Or in town, wherever hunting licenses are sold are also the rail trail passes.
It’s family entertainment on the cheap — with rich rewards.

— Susan Lynn