The Great Plains run smack into the Rocky Mountains in the middle of Wyoming. Small wonder that half the state and its gorgeous natural beauty is owned by the federal government. Two important national parks reside in Wyoming: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The state’s economy is built on agriculture including cattle, sugar beets, and wheat and on mineral extraction which includes coal, natural gas and oil. Centuries ago, Wyoming was the land of the Shoshone, the Arapaho, the Lakota and the Crow. The capital of Wyoming is Cheyenne.
Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872, under President Ulysses S. Grant, Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was the first national park not only in the U.S. but possibly in the entire world. The land area of Yellowstone is a fantastic 3500 square miles, or two million acres, and is home to a ‘slumbering’ supervolcano which is considered dormant. But earthquakes are frequent though most cannot be detected by humans. In 1985, over a three month period, 3,000 minor earthquakes were detected in the northwestern part of the park. This kind of event is called an earthquake swarm. In addition, half the world’s geysers and hydro-thermal events occur in Yellowstone as a result of volcanic activity. Old Faithful, which shoots a stream of hot water 150 feet into the air, every 60-90 minutes on average, is an example of just one of these events.
One of the most stable African nations, Senegal is on the west coast of Africa in a zone between the Sahara and sub-Sahara called the Sahel. This region is mostly semi-arid.
A beautiful, colorful bird endemic to sub-Saharan Africa, the turaco bird comes in a variety of colors. Some of the birds show red wings from below while in flight, though when not flying the red isn’t apparent. They are known as ‘banana eaters’, ‘loeries’ and ‘go-away-birds’ in different parts of the country. These gregarious birds usually have long tails and uniquely colored crests. These crests range in color from white to red, to blue to purple and even black. The crests often have two colors. Turacos are beautiful birds, beloved historically by African royal families, and some are even tame enough to hand-feed.
Tall, flightless birds with soft brown feathers, emus are native to Australia. They call to each other with whistling and purring sounds. The male emu incubates the eggs and tends to the young which may be the reason female emus fight over the males. A female can produce several clutches in a season. A relative of the ostrich, emus can grow to the height of a man and are capable of quick sprints up to thirty-one mph.
An Australian native plant — both tree and shrub — the pincushion flower is a bird and bee delight. With round deep pink or red flowers that look stuck-all-over with ‘pins’, the plant lives up to its common name. The pincushion flower is a member of the Hakea family, which is a genus of about 150 plants that are endemic to Australia. The flower produces a unique, woody fruit.
Horses in the Snow
Today, I’ve combined two powerful, iconic themes: horses and snow. Both are amazing forces of nature. The weight of snow can crush trees and roofs. The power of the automobile is still measured in terms of horsepower. Both are beautiful beyond words. Snow gives us a crystalline purity and silence when it first falls. Horses are elegant in line and motion. The two together create an image that makes you think of myths and legends.
Chalets and Snow
A woodsy chalet tucked into deep drifts of snow is an iconic image of alpine elevations. But the origin of the historic European chalet has its roots not in snow-sports but in dairy farming. In the heat of the summer, herders would drive their dairy cattle into the mountains for the duration of the season. With the temperatures significantly cooler than the lowland regions, the herders would live in the chalets where they would then produce milk, cheese and butter without fear of everything getting spoiled. Before the snows arrived, the cattle were then driven back down the mountain and the chalets closed up for the winter. Only in modern times have these lovely chalets become ‘ski chalets’ and opened up for the snow season.
Rabbits in the Snow
When it comes to the heat or the cold, rabbits and hares do much better in the snow, including minus-degree weather. The funfacts below are all about the arctic hare which thrives in the snow and in icy conditions. They have smallish ears to help keep their bodies focused on conserving heat and energy rather than on hearing. Arctic hares can move amazingly fast, up to 40 miles per hour. But their predators are numerous including wolves, polar bears, and foxes. The third video below shows bunnies romping in the snow.
Trees and Snow
Originally, when I collected photos for The Beauty of Snow Again, I found so many gorgeous pics that I decided I’d do a similar blog which I’ve called ‘Trees and Snow’. Having never lived in snow country, I can only imagine the difficulties and demands of maneuvering through the season’s offerings. Though, I got a glimpse when one hard-working friend told me that by the time she reaches her car first thing in the morning to head off to work, she’s exhausted from the toils of moving snow around and all the other necessary efforts required to just keep warm. Brrrr! So, for those of you who have to shovel snow or try not to run into an unmarked ditch because of snow drifts or to keep from sliding down an iced over street, my deepest sympathies. I hope you can enjoy the photos anyway!