Friday, January 10, 2020

Winter Storm Gage - An Artistic Effect

Winter Storm Gage

Right at the start of another decade, a named storm descended onto the foothills, dumping heavy amounts of more snowfall. Winter Storm Gage cruised down through the corridor, eliminating any hint of color while leaving behind a landscape converted to gray.

Trudging up a steep hill was a struggle but I did witness white flakes falling against the black trees, creating a soft, artistic effect. There was so much contrast between the two values, I felt like I was walking through a pointillistic painting.

A few snags and fallen logs were representative of the rough life endured by the trees and animals that survive on Elk Ridge. From a high overlook, most of the valley was visible but the horizon line was lost due to the dense atmosphere.

Working my way back down was a bit dicey because the trail was broken by rock, slush and ice. Back down at the bottom, a miserable wind made everything cold and uncomfortable but despite the bad weather, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the hopeful beginning of a new year.

Heavy amounts of snowfall

The valley was visible

A rough life

A gray landscape

White flakes and black trees

A pointillistic painting

The beginning of a new year

An artistic effect

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Christmas in Western Nebraska - Calm Before the Storm

Christmas in Western Nebraska

Christmas in Western Nebraska is a bittersweet holiday because the temperatures are always brutally cold. The northern plains normally get pounded by winter storms and a ferocious wind blows snow across the grassland, creating whiteout conditions that make travel impossible.

During our stay at my parents’ Little House on the Prairie, the weird weather was unseasonably warm. This December, the usually frozen creek was found to be ice-free and flowing smoothly through a semi-frosted pasture.

The cattle had been put out on the corn where the longhorns formed an imposing silhouette against an early sunset. The barren trees stood in stark contrast to the fading, orange light as the entire scene was faithfully reflected on the water’s glassy surface.

Our good fortune only lasted for a few days before the peaceful setting was disappointingly shattered. The forecast turned ominous and just as we were leaving town, a surprise storm appeared out of nowhere and charged down the valley enveloping Chimney Rock.

The fast-moving system buried the Sandhills under a blanket of deep snow. I should have known that fragile window of fine weather at the farm was only a mirage. Those few nice days were really just an anomaly - they were the calm before the storm.

The creek was ice-free

Sorghum bales

Longhorn cattle

A peaceful setting

Faithful reflections

Chimney Rock

Little House on the Prairie