Hubbard Fellowship Blog – Back on the prairie: fresh snow and hoar frost

 

A guest post from Anne Stine, one of our Hubbard Fellows.  All photos are by Anne.

 

Fresh snow on bushclover and yarrow in the Derr Sandhills.  The Nature Conservancy's Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

Fresh snow on bushclover and yarrow in the Derr Sandhills. The Nature Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, Nebraska.

I’ve finally returned to Wood River after a long absence. It’s been ages since I was out on the prairie, or since I even saw it out the window.  The re-acquaintance period after my long time away did not disappoint. Just after I got back, we had some fun weather in the wake of the polar vortex (though I was *less* excited about the frozen pipes…). Specifically, we saw fresh snow followed by hoarfrost.  I was pleased to have a reason to get outside and take pictures.

Hoarfrost on Canada goldenrod

Hoarfrost on Canada goldenrod

I’ve seen hoarfrost before, but I’m struck by how lacey and delicate the world looks with white limning the edges of each leaf and twig. Fresh snow is dramatic in its own right.  I like the way it fuzzes out the horizon and scatters light.

Hairy grama, Bouteloua hirsuta, on the Derr Sandhills during a light snow shower.

Hairy grama (Bouteloua hirsuta) on the Derr Sandhills during a light snow shower.

I am also pleased to report that I have retained my ability to withstand the cold weather. I dress like an arctic explorer, but at least I get outside!

If you’re curious, this is the face behind the posts… winter edition.

If you’re curious, this is the face behind the posts… winter edition.

The morning I woke to hoarfrost, I made a bee-line to the sand pit restoration to capture it on the cottonwoods. The sand pit restoration is one of my favorite places to tromp around in the Platte River Prairies.  I return there regularly enough I was able to make this fun comparison of summer and winter images.  I find this reconstructed wetland to be picturesque year-round. These two pictures are up on TNC Nebraska’s Instagram, nature_ne.  I’m so glad I’m here to see the much-feared prairie winter.

Sand pit restoration: summer vs. winter.

Sand pit restoration: summer vs. winter.

Hoarfrost lining my favorite cottonwood, ice on the creek.

Hoarfrost lining my favorite cottonwood, ice on the creek.

Another view of my favorite cottonwood, framed by common evening primrose stalks.

Another view of my favorite cottonwood, framed by common evening primrose stalks.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is an ecologist and Eastern Nebraska Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. He supervises the management and restoration of approximately 4,000 acres of land in central and eastern Nebraska - primarily along the central Platte River. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press.
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3 Responses to Hubbard Fellowship Blog – Back on the prairie: fresh snow and hoar frost

  1. Teresa says:

    I love your posts, they always sound so friendly and it’s almost as if I get to stand right there with you and share the excitement of each new view. Don’t you just love the bold statement those primrose stalks make? Thank you so much for sharing these images – they brightened my morning

  2. beingbodeker says:

    You’re dressed pretty awesome behind that camera! Are you wearing mukluks on your feet? :)

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