The Drama of the Prairie

We moved back out to the prairie last month.  Our last house was nestled against a hill overlooking the river.  Prior to that we were staying in a house on ten acres on the prairie.

One thing about living on the prairie is that the sky is wide open.  It’s ringed with hills and there are taller mountains in the distance.  But there are very few trees on the prairie because it’s mostly farmland (or recently become neighborhoods).  You can see the weather blowing in.

Spring is prime storm season.  It’s cool to see the thunderheads blowing in across the prairie.  You can see the delineation of where it’s raining and watch as it approaches you or moves away.

Today was one such day.  I took these pictures from my car just a little north of where we’re living.

photo 1 (4)

photo 2 (4)

photo 3

Seeing these storm clouds blowing in reminded me of when we were living on the prairie two years ago.  I remember driving home one evening and a wall of black clouds was blowing toward us as we were driving home.  We made it to the house before the storm hit, but just barely.  The wind was whipping across the prairie and it sounded like the house might blow down.  That was a powerful spring storm.  Most rain in North Idaho is fairly tame, but spring storms are a different beast.  They still don’t compare to places like Texas, where it can rain several inches in 30 minutes, but it’s a far cry from the gentle misting rain we normally get.

Later that summer I was out walking in the yard with my new daughter in a sling trying to settle her and get her to sleep.  A storm was blowing in.  The wind was warm and there was lightning flashing in the distance.  It was dusk, so the lightning was all the more visible.  I managed to get her to sleep before the rain got to us.  When there’s this much space and open sky, it takes a while for the leading edge of the storm to arrive.  You can stay out and watch it for quite a while.  When these storms blow up in the middle of summer, the wind is warm and feels refreshing with the cool promise of the coming rain.

I have to admit that I prefer being nestled into a hillside among the trees.  The view of the river was great, though it’s the trees that really do it for me.  There are a few trees around our neighborhood, but it’s a new neighborhood, so the trees are still young and are recent transplants.  The wind on the prairie can be annoying (though it’s not nearly as bad here in the neighborhood as it was on ten acres).  But being able to watch the drama of a spring storm unfold before your eyes almost makes up for the lack of trees.


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