Understanding The Land

Our Changing landscape

Wyoming landscape…this phrase usually has us thinking of majestic mountains, vast expanses of land covered in grass and sagebrush, green prairies leading to blue mountains with with white caps. If you visit us this time of year, you may witness a quite different scene.

Spring time in Wyoming has it’s own beauty, much of which is experienced in an awakening after a long, dark, cold winter. However, everywhere you look you will see shades of brown and grey. Even the animals sometimes seem to be a duller color with their full winter coats made for warmth more than style. All of this is part of our unique landscape. The plants have evolved over time to withstand the winter conditions using a variety of techniques, including dormancy. Just because all you can see is brown and grey does not mean the area is not teaming with life.

Spring is always a welcome relief to both the eyes and the soul. As the first blades of green grass start to poke through the brown cover of last year, we begin to feel an abundance of joy and excitement knowing that we will soon be blessed with more green grass, new wildlife and livestock babies, and the new beginnings many of us associate with the rainbows that accompany the spring rain showers.

And then suddenly summer is here! Green grass, wildflowers, wildlife…everything is at it’s most vibrant. Trips into the mountains find wildlife slicked off having lost their winter coats. The sagebrush has a fresh light green tint to it, but it’s almost impossible to see next to the brilliant green undergrowth. Animals are out and about filling up on this nutritious fare after their long winter. The babies can be seen romping, the birds can be heard singing, and there is a general sense of well-being.

Early summer finds high temperatures very comfortable with night temperatures still dropping to very cool. As summer goes on, there is another shift. Temperatures continue to climb, many times reaching triple digits. The plants begin to dry out, and that water holes dry up. It’s about this time that everyone begins to look forward to fall.

Fall is the time to see the landscape in it’s last glory as it prepares for the winter to come. Along the waterways deciduous trees are doing their best to put on a brilliant show. The aspen groves in the mountains become golden and nearly sparkle in the sunshine. The cool-season grasses are growing again, so after that dry period in late summer we will once again see some green undergrowth. The animals are foraging, getting ready for the long winter months. The first snowfalls will come and provide much needed moisture, and it’s the good kind that sits on the ground and soaks in. The days get shorter and cooler, and we all know it’t time to be making winter preparations.

And with those snows, winter comes fast behind fall. The land again is bleak, with little color variation unless you are one of the lucky ones that is up to see the many colors of the beautiful sunrises. The fields, prairies, and mountains are all covered in white with shades of brown and gray to highlight the change in landscape. While many animals and plants are at their least active this time of year, winter still provides plenty of opportunities. Winter sports, community events, holiday celebrations, and quality time spent at home with the family are all important aspects of winter life in Wyoming.

The varying landscapes are an important part of Wyoming. They influence everything from our daily life to our overall culture. Each season brings a reminder of what has gone and what is yet to come. Enjoy Wyoming and everything it has to offer!

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