Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The texture of winter in the Sandhills!

It's true...not everyone enjoys winter. Not everyone enjoys snow. Nor do they like the cold. But I must confess, I LOVE the winter. I love how it smells. The crunch of the snow underneath my boots in below zero temperatures...the starkness of the landscape which is utterly beautiful with a dusting of snow...and the wildlife is simply amazing.

So you may not be overjoyed by the winter...but I invite you to share the textures from the warmth of your home. And if you do happen to love the winter, by all means please bring your family out to the Sandhills of Nebraska and enjoy the pristine beauty.

There are many lakes for you to enjoy ice fishing including Merritt Reservoir, Big Alkali where the annual Cork Thornton Memorial Ice Fishing Tournament will be held, and the Valentine Refuge lakes.  You can see the movement of the fish at the right which was just caught. 

 Our national emblem is soaring over our skies as a symbol of freedom, strength, and in need of a meal.

Little nuthatches are fascinating to watch as they take food and hide it in the ends of hollow branches, or between the bark of trees.

Not all snowflakes are created equally. So far this winter we've had one beautiful snowflake day which was like living in a snow globe. We've had it snow slush on Christmas day along with thunder, lightning and finishing out the day with winds gusting to 66 mph. That made quite an impression. 

This particular winter day began with the  temperature a mere -27 below zero with a wind chill that was -57. This is one of the days when you can actually smell the winter. Little squirrel, who is snow dusted, wasn't moving as fast as usual.


 A reflection of the uniqueness of winters in the Sandhills. It can be cold, sub zero, and windy one day, and balmy, sunny, and warm the next. Seriously, in a matter of 24 hours.

 Looks like it could be one of Santa's reindeer practicing for takeoff!

 Natures original pop-sickle!

 Snow blasted trees...like a fairytale.

 Here we have the leftovers of fall mingling with winter creating a unique texture.

Ice climbing anyone? You can, but not at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. Check around for outfitters who will allow this activity, or call the Valentine Chamber of Commerce for more information at 402-376-2969.

 Tire tracks are highlighted by the setting sun.

Baby snowflakes mingle with orange and green lichens. You can find out more about the lichens by going to fs.fed.us.

Large chunks of ice flow over Cornell Dam. Some days, large gaggles of geese sit on top of the dam doing goose things. 

And an innocent, curious, photographer can quietly...stealthily...make their way down to the river to see what kind of goose things they're doing (preening it turns out), and like that - with a silent signal - they all in a giant swoosh, lift off and  fill the skies with their complaints of not getting all their feathers in the right place. It happens.

What have we here? Rainbow clouds? According to Earth\Sky, "They're caused by the presence of very tiny ice crystals or water droplets in the air, which cause light to be diffracted or spread out." 
Click on the Earth\Sky link to find out more about this rarity.

 Jack Frost leaves behind his artistry on a window.

Do you know what this is called? I didn't but discovered it's called a Sun Pillar. According to Earth\Sky, "Sun pillars, or light pillars, are vertical shafts of light that can sometimes be seen extending upwards . They're caused by light reflection from hexagonal ice crystals drifting in Earth's atmosphere."

It's time to warm up now. Find your favorite feline or pup and cuddle up in a sunbeam and enjoy your texture tour of winter in the Sandhills. For some of you, simply looking out the window, dreaming of spring is understandable and the many memories you'll make as the river reverts back to a warm water, fun destination come summer. 

From all of us at SandhillsWesternVacations.com we wish you a happy, healthy, prosperous, and blessed 2017. We're looking forward to seeing you this year!!

Please share your comments about winter textures...your favorite? Not so much? What is your favorite season in the Nebraska Sandhills?

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