Photo of the Week – January 27, 2016

One of my favorite winter photography subjects is the kind of “window” created by melting snow around prairie plants.  When the sun is shining, dried plants often warm up enough to melt the snow around them a little faster than the rest of the snow nearby.  Those melted windows or portholes make for very interesting (to me) patterns and photographic subjects.  Last weekend, my boys and I were out at our prairie on a beautiful day.  While they built snow forts on the frozen pond and threw snowballs at each other, I wandered around looking for windows in the snow.

I am an odd duck, aren’t I?


A window in melting snow above western ragweed.  Helzer family prairie.


Another ragweed plant and melting snow.


A jumble of grass leaves and melting snow.


Scribner’s panicum beneath melting snow.

I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who finds these little windows attractive…

Ok, that’s not true –  I may very well be the only person in the world who pays any attention to them.  I guess it’s not the worst eccentricity I could have (or do have).  At least I don’t go on long rants about imaginary conspiracies involving cute furry semi-aquatic animals.

Oh wait.

This entry was posted in Prairie Photography and tagged , , , , , by Chris Helzer. Bookmark the permalink.

About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.

8 thoughts on “Photo of the Week – January 27, 2016

  1. Love the portals in the ice…into a world that will be blooming before long…Winter is so magical…just like the cute furry critters who conspire against you!

  2. Have to wonder if there is some ecological significance to these, especially as the spring melt kicks in. Very beautiful and interesting pictures.

    • Individually the effect from these “windows” in the snow would be such a small impact that no larger change would be observed. However, all of these “windows” collectively would have enough impact to influence global weather patterns.

  3. I was leading a group of 1st graders on an animal tracks and signs class this morning and found a “window” on the prairie. I was more excited than the kids. Thank you for introducing me to this feature of winter prairies.


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