Where the Sky Goes All the Way to the Ground

September 01, 2017

Originally posted Nov 05, 2013

 

I’ve been living out here on the Northern Plains for all of my life. But I love the mountains, and I love the sea only a little less than mountains. Also, I hate – and “hate” is the right word – the cold. Over the years, I’ve always had somewhere in the recesses of my mind the thought/feeling that a time would come when I’d be living either in the Rockies or somewhere on either coast.

Over the past couple of years, however, it has settled in on me that it ain’t going to happen. I know now that I’ll conclude life exactly where it began, here in the middle of the U.S.

And that’s okay…in fact it’s better than that; it’s great.

I’ve got everything I could ever have asked for right here. A wonderful wife and friend, a treasured extended family, good friends, and a job that I actually look forward to getting up in the morning – well, most mornings – and going to. Add to that photography, banging around the outdoors, and flying, and it’s hard to think anyone has it any better than I.

Add to that something that I truly love – and here, “love” is the right word – are the wonderful wide-open vistas that we enjoy in this part of the country. When I was not quite four, my family moved to Lincoln from the little village of Alvo. We went from a white two-story house set in an acre or two of ground, including a small orchard, to a wretched duplex in a neighborhood that at best could be called yeasty and where any riding toy left outside un-attended for even a minute, would promptly disappear. Even with that dearth of wheeled goods, my main little boy complaint about the place was that I could no longer, at breakfast, look out through the window and see trees and birds. I told my mother, “I miss the birds” and I did.

And even then, I missed the view. I love it that here you can arrange to literally see all the way to where the sky meets the ground, not where it disappears behind a building or even a tree. Since the kids moved to central east coast Florida, I’ve probably spent the better part of a year down there, and I treasure those visits. I never get tired of the ocean, and I’m spending time with three of the most important people in the world, to me at least. My daughter and her family actually live five miles inland in a tall pine forest, and although it’s even flatter than Nebraska, it’s lovely. But what they don’t have down there, unless you’re on the beach, is a view. There’s no place you can stand on a hill (they don’t have those either) and look off for miles and miles to the horizon.

As an English major, there was no way I could get through university without reading My Antonia, and I was absolutely captivated by Cather’s description of a prairie sunset, where at the last moment before sinking below the distant horizon, the sun fell behind and cast the shadow of a plow, in heroic size, across miles of landscape. I’ve never seen anything like that, but my favorite time of day is the hour before sunset, and as darkness grows closer, you seem to be able to pick out individual features on the horizon that are about as far away as you can see. Add to that the soft, somewhat candle-like, quality to the light at that time of day, and it really doesn’t get much better.

So, I’m going to shoot more landscapes. It’s not as easy as it might seem. I’ve been taking photos of outdoor scenes most of my life, and the results have a way of disappointing me. When I look at a scene, I really don’t see the utility lines running right through the skyscape, but the camera never misses them. That failing notwithstanding, I’m going to work hard at capturing and displaying on this site, the expansive beauty of Nebraska.  

In most of them, you can clearly see where the sky meets the ground. That’s the goal. Feel free to let me know how you think I’m doing.

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