"There is a solitude, or perhaps a solemnity, in the few hours that precede the dawn of day which is unlike that of any others in the twenty-four, and which I cannot explain or account for. Thoughts come to me at this time that I never have at any other." 
- George Bird Grinnell

Summer 2021 - The Great Plains​​​​​
​​It is easy to take the summer for granted when you are actively experiencing it. However, when winter comes calling with its bone chilling winds and ice ladened breaths, we reminisce on the bounty of the summertime. When I begin to long for the summer, I recall the warm embrace of the Nebraskan prairie. How a single inhalation of that succulent morning air fills the nose with the cool tingle of open space. In the afternoon when the sun beats down upon the land, my nostrils are blessed with hints of roasted prairie grass mixed with the dust of the gateway to the west. I could close my eyes and breathe in, filling my lungs with oxygen as rich and fulfilling as the adventure I found myself on.
As I explored the western history that was so plentiful and alive around me, I felt the warm breezes of the prairie across my skin. The warm touch of the sun felt as welcoming as a tender hug from the one you love. I found myself graced with a painting of yellow-green grasses illuminating an array of tan sedimentary rock formations from a long receded inland sea. I walked this inland sea, which now was a much more hostile place to make a life. One is cautious to step off trail for fear of being bitten by a rattlesnake or to step on a cactus. When in nature it is often lovely to touch and feel the environment, but that is seldom the case here. Most everything has thorns, spikes, or fangs. To survive here, its a requirement. The sharp needles of a cactus will poke the unwise guest, the fangs of the snake will strike to protect itself, and even the horns of the lizards make an appearance to the alert walker. This is a place of beauty and danger. Yet that danger only adds to the beauty. When one might be assaulted by the landscape, he eyes it more carefully, and is ever vigilant of his surroundings. 
As I stood on the banks of the north Platte river, I smelled the sometimes rank, yet wonderfully memorable smell of rotting fallen cottonwoods and willows marinating in the river's murky waters. The sun slowly retreated to its nighttime hideout, somewhere in the west. As I laid my head down for a much needed night's rest, I found myself breathing now slightly chilled, but still as hearty, breaths of western Nebraska air, while curled up in my sleeping bag. As I repeated my breaths, the omnipresent white noise of the cicada slowly put me to sleep. Only to rise the next day to repeat the cycle again, enriching each of my senses. 

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