Despite all that is going on above ground level, I am still finding a lot to look at from my hands and knees. As always, what I find there is so engrossing that time can pass by without me noticing. And so it was that I was startled one morning by a nearby snort of a cow who, with her buddies, had walked up on me when I was photographing. I already knew what was next and turned to meet this herder, with a puzzled look on his face. It was not a look that said, "Wow, that looks really interesting." I showed him what I was looking at, and at some of the images—purple and yellow native irises as well as a yellow wild poppy. I also explained that I was from the place that the logo on his baseball hat was from, and asked if I could take a picture of him.
There is a limit to how much you can communicate without language, and a limit to what one culture can imagine about another under such circumstances. I have this version of the story to tell you here. There is another version in Darkhan that this man is telling his friends, about the American his cows found crawling around on the ground. He may mention that the American was from the same place that his hat is supposed to come from, though he probably won't explain that a Yankees hat is never, ever green and yellow. He's also not likely to be able to explain what I was looking at. Most Mongolians I have talked to are not well versed in native plants. When asked what a particular white flower is, I usually get a descriptive reply such as "tsagaan tsetseg," which translates directly to "white flower." So it may be a while before I can identify the plants in these images.
Although this notebook starts in Darkhan, there are pictures here from several other places, including Goat Red's basin in Khovd, the area just to the south of Jargalant Mountain, and the area around Baatar Khairhan, the mountain where we have found so many petroglyphs.