“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It Goes On.”
Robert Frost

Monday, September 15, 2014

Almost Autumn

It's almost Autumn! Are you ready?

On a recent road trip to a family event we stopped in at the Sica Hollow State Park which is located in northeastern South Dakota. This was only my second visit in about thirty years and I had almost forgotten how beautiful it was. This area is far enough north that the Autumn colors were already showing. Let me tell you a bit about this park.

It is an area with deep, forested ravines on the eastern slope of the Prairie Coteau Hills. The belief that it is haunted is widely held. The Dakota Sioux once used the area as their primary hunting grounds. They named the place "Sica", (pronounced she-cha) meaning evil or bad.  One reason is that the water that gushed from the many natural springs was red-tinted, most likely from the minerals in the water. However the Dakota felt that is was a sign of supernatural forces at work.

Some of the areas have a form of quick sand, that only enhanced the spooky dangerous feel of the area. Not to mention swam gas and stumps that glow in the dark! All of these natural factors led to more stories and superstition. Even as recently as the 1970's a new fear factor was introduced, Big Foot! Several expeditions searching for the hairy beast ensued without any real evidence, but it makes for a good story! Many overnight campers claim to have heard war whoops, chanting and drums. It is as if the ancestors of the Dakota are still laying claim to this ancient place.

Sightings of brown bear and big cats (cougars) only add to its danger and mystery. While we were there we only encountered an occasional squirrel. Birds singing and the water running through the many brooks and streams where the only sounds we heard. I do feel it to be a very spiritual place though and can understand why at night it might feel a bit spooky!

The sumac was turning fiery red and some of the native grasses had an almost purple hue to them. In the meadows there were hundreds of sunflowers. The sky was filled with thin clouds that made the sky appear white but it almost made the area glow with color!

This is a close up of the Staghorn Sumac. We have it growing in our area, but as yet it has not changed color. This was a favorite plant of the Native Americans.  The bright red autumn foliage is easy to identify and the large cone-like, dark red berry clusters are very distinctive. It's been used as a delicious drink and food source for thousands of years. The berries are used in a cold beverage (similar to lemonade) or in teas. I found a great site about how to harvest sumac and how to use it here. If you have access to your own you might want to try some of the recipes.

Autumn will officially be here in just a few days.  I have finally excepted that summer is over, even though it took forever to get here and didn't last nearly long enough!

How are you all feeling about the changing seasons? Let me know!
Have a wonderful week! ~~ Diane


  1. Wow - Sica Hollow State Park looks like an amazing and beautiful place. Very tranquil and serene. I personally am so looking forward to the impending fall season. The best time of year :-)

    1. This particular day, we did not see another soul! As I said the only chatter we heard were the birds!

  2. Oh My Diana - these pictures were so beautiful. Autumn certainly looks like it has arrived in the Dakotas. Pretty interesting about the area being haunted. No summer didn't last long enough but I do love seeing those beautiful fall colors. There are some signs but no real change as of yet - except cooler days. Going to read up on your link on Sumac...never heard about using it for drinks. Always thought it was poisonous. So nice to see that it is not. Have a great week my friend.

  3. Diane, what a beautiful, spiritual place! I would love to go there! Thank you for sharing these gorgeous pictures and the history!
    Even though we really didn't have a summer, I am SO ready for Autumn and yes, even Winter ;o) Are leaves are changing here!
    Have a great week ;o)
    Big Hugs ;o)

  4. I loved these pictures. I wish the fall season visited us like it seems to do with everyone else. I know I would love it!

  5. OH! It's YOU....my Minnesota neighbor! Hello there! My goodness, you got some fantastic photos of what is starting to happen here, slowly! Isn't this a grand time of year?

    Let's hope, you and I, that we do NOT repeat the winter from last year!

    Wishing you a sweet September! Anita

  6. What beautiful scenery and foliage! Are there still Dakota Sioux in the area or did they all come north to Manitoba and Saskatchewan after the Battle of Little Big Horn?

    1. Many are still there and live on the Wahpeton Reservation. I copied this from the Sisseton SD page under Arts and Culture:
      "Dancers in colorful regalia take part in the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Nation's Annual Wacipi or Pow-Wow. Established in 1867, it is the oldest continual event in South Dakota. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe tribal members and friends gather in colorful, traditional costumes each summer. A festive atmosphere includes pounding drums and fancy dancing. Visitors are welcome at this annual cultural and historic event."
      Read more here: http://www.sisseton.com/artsAndCulture.php?slide=2
      Here is link to the Wahpeton Dakota Nation site: http://aktalakota.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=8659

  7. OHMY...what gorgeous scenery. Beautiful photos! And Big Foot is there, too, amongst all the other dangerous things? Sounds exciting! LOL...

    I love autumn...as long as the weather is nice. Makes for great photography.

  8. for some reason I thought it already started

    1. Nope! Officially, the first full day of Autumn is September 23rd, right before the new moon.

  9. Hi Diane, what a beautiful post your ‘photos are gorgeous. I’ve heard about the legend of Big Foot but had not heard any of the tales about Sica Hollow State Park. I would love to visit one day, but only in daylight! I’m a bit of a scardy cat when it comes to spooky places.
    It is definitely autumn in our little corner of England. Everything in the garden is starting to turn colour and on our walk today, we saw masses of red and orange berries. It’s a very pretty time of the year, although I wish it was spring with warm sunny days just around the corner. Have a lovely week, Barbara

  10. I really enjoyed my time here this morning. It is starting to look like fall here, but not as beautiful as your area. Love the reds of the Sumac.

  11. The colours are wonderful, I think that sumac may be a small tree in a neighbours garden, stunning colour. Amazing woodland with great stories, I would like it there, maybe not at night though :) We are having an indian summer here...more warmth to come, it's just been brilliant, August was a little cool, but a good year weather wise really, I hope the warmth continues for some time :)

  12. It looks like a wonderful place. I'm excited about Autumn, I love the change in seasons. Have a good day!

  13. I love Fall ( and the music you play here) .
    I think as I get a we bit older I have come to appreciate what each season has to offer and embrace it . Living in New England we do have very distinct seasons.
    Your post content was so interesting .
    I have a good friend that swears there is a BIgFoot ~ she would love camping there .lol

  14. That looks so beautiful! Fall is my favorite season. We're not quite there yet, it's supposed to be 90 tomorrow.

  15. Oh Diane, I love the change of season, and Autumn is my favorite one of all. These pictures are so nice, and this place is very mysterious and lovely. Oh my, wouldn't that be something to see a sighting of a bear or a cougar? I love all the oranges and reds in these pictures. You really captured all the beauty of this glorious season.


  16. A very nice photo series ..what wonderful colors and light.
    fabulous scenery ... you make a good job...
    Best regards, Karin


Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane