When we first visited Walsh County, the Homestead region designed by Randonee Noel, back in August, it had not long opened. Following that visit, it got stuck in my list of places to write about, and so prompted a recent re-visit.
The region takes as its inspiration Walsh County, North Dakota, a place that describes itself as “a land of prairies, croplands, river valleys, and rolling hills.” The primary source of income for the county comes from farming, predominantly small grain, cash crops, forage crops, together with beef, dairy cattle and swine. It’s the first of these – grain crops – is the focus for the region design.
Cupped within a region surround that folds itself into the the setting to give a look and feel of gently rolling prairies with distant hills, the region is given over to a broad field that takes up most of its area, bordered by a the dirt track of a public road along its southern edge, and cut by a farm track to the north. Within this expanse is a small pool of water and a single tree, what might be a mid-field picnic area extending a short distance outward from the tree’s leafy shade.
When we first visited in August, the region was in an early summer setting: a young crop covered the land in a green carpet, whilst a crop duster making periodic passes across the field, painting it in stripes of pesticide – or perhaps in fertilizer, if the aircraft was engaged in aerial topdressing.
Seeing the ‘plane repeatedly passing over the field immediately put me in mind of Cary Grant being buzzed by a crop duster in Hitchcock’s classic North by Northwest, and suggested plenty of opportunities for photographs playing homage to the movie. So much so, that I was surprised not to come across any in the region’s Flickr stream, which made me a little regretful of not producing such a photo myself 😀 .
That said, it is really small details – coupled with the open rezzing (with a 30-min auto-return limit) that meant people could make their own scenes within region – that made, and continue to make, the region so attractive. These range from the poses on things like the boards that cross the stream bordering the field, to the paper boats that periodically pass under it to float by the ducks paddling downstream, to the paper aeroplane that can be thrown into the air with a simple touch (“/3 stop” – minus the quotes – will settle it back on the ground), and more.
Since that first visit, time has moved on; the crops have grown and and the harvest is due. And this has brought with it another touch with the region: the fact that it can change not only with the season, but also periodically. The harvester (complete with its own poses), for example, might on one day be engaged in cutting the crop, on another it may be off-loading its grain tank into a tractor-towed trailer, then on another – as with my most recent visit – sitting on the farm track waiting to commence work.
Other details have been added for the time of year as well – geese fly overhead, presumably getting an early start to a southern migration, whilst the little picnic area offers a touch of Halloween with a pumpkin patch. In another touch – which may have been there from the opening, and I simply don’t recall from our initial visit – a small family grave plot marks the fact that most of Walsh County’s farms are family-run.
Engaging from the start, Walsh County presents – as numerous bloggers have already noted – an attractive offering for photographers and explorers to visit.
With thanks to Shawn Shakespeare for the original pointer to the region.
- Walsh County (Campton, rated General)