Saturday, January 30, 2016

Western Nebraska - A Winter Eden

Winter in western Nebraska

This season, the weather in Western Nebraska is absolutely wonderful. Wading through waist-deep snow, the stark Sandhills are a white oasis.

Spread across the blank space, a humble homestead appears in the distance. A halo of soft light is a soothing beacon of hope, offering sanctuary from the frigid cold.

After a week of severe weather, the entire region is transformed into a pristine snowscape. An arctic chill unique to this place, seeps into your aching bones.

Cradled in the Great Plains, this fertile crescent is inhabited by hardy settlers and exotic animals. Surprisingly, the Garden of Eden is located here, near the banks of the mighty North Platte.

Along the slippery edge of a brown creek, arched cottonwoods form an intricate corridor into a lush reserve. Golden rays of afternoon light permeate the frozen wilderness, warming an icy bog.

The secluded marsh is home to timid species that are spooked by my unwelcome appearance. Flushed from hiding are a family of white-tailed deer, a few northern flickers and a blue jay.

Strong, west winds wreak havoc during the long, restless night. By dawn, beautiful patterns of drifted snow are engraved into the rugged landscape.

Indian peacocks are a precious commodity perched high above in the barren trees. Down below, African guineafowl peck at the frozen ground, foraging for sparse food.

White-headed eagles are majestic monarchs ruling over this dominion of land, water and sky. A hungry hawk is a visiting dignitary, searching for unsuspecting sparrows.

Like a pale apparition, a mysterious, white horse grazes along the edge of a dormant cornfield. The eerie atmosphere is enhanced by the chorus of coyotes howling in the forest.

Dried sunflowers are a bitter reminder of our fleeting existence but now I know where it all began. If you thought paradise was a tropical garden, you’d be wrong, because I’ve discovered that Eden is actually a winter wonderland.

A humble homestead

North Platte River

A brown creek

Afternoon light is golden

An icy bog

Indian peacocks

African guineafowl

Majestic bald eagle

A hungry hawk

Unsuspecting sparrows

A mysterious, white horse

A dormant cornfield

Dried sunflowers

Paradise is not tropical

Eden is a winter wonderland

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