Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Water, Water, Every Where...

Prairie Sky 11... nor any drop to drink!*

If you have ever been to Calgary, or anywhere else in central and southern Alberta, you notice it right away: your hair is dry moments after stepping out of the shower; you see humidifiers on the furnaces; you see salt stains on your clothes after a run; and you notice that you are always drinking water.

Yes, central and southern Alberta are very dry regions. Calgary gets only 413 mm of moisture from the sky each year. Drumheller receives 368 mm. Medicine Hat, a paltry 334 mm. This is dry enough for the U.S. Geological Survey to classify these areas as a semi-desert.

So why are there so many clouds over The Prairies?

No matter what meteorologists might tell you, those clouds are there for one purpose only: to satisfy The Voices!

Irrigation from mountain run-off and wells is what allows The Prairies to blossom as farmland. The farmland is in stark contrast to areas that are not irrigated. As are the fat, plump clouds that are often floating overhead. Juicy clouds floating over an infinite expanse of prairie land makes for some very interesting visual eye candy. Mix in a bit of setting sun and not surprisingly, I had to stop while returning from my visit to the Hoodoos.

I find it very interesting that on The Prairies, what you see depends on where you look. For example, looking to the southwest I saw rolling farmland basking in the golden glow of the sun. The clouds were high and sparse, reflecting the first hints of the reds of sunset.

Prairie Sky

When I looked north, I saw the clouds starting to build into sterner stuff. There were no reds here, but lots of blues and purples.

Prairie Sky 10

Doing a 180 degree turn, I looked due south and saw the boundary where the clouds had built up, reflecting an odd combination of blues, purples and reds.

Prairie Sky 9

Due east was a field of wheat. The clouds over it were mostly untouched by the setting sun. Both The Voices and I were silent as we took in the incredible scenery. I managed to take a quick snap. This is, for me, the definition of a prairie sky.

Prairie Sky 11

I crossed the road to try my hand at a close-up black and white (most of my images of praire clouds are black and white), but as much as I like this photo it does not improve upon the previous one. Some things are just meant to be seen in colour.

Prairie Sky 7

There was a track through the wheat and I walked along it for a bit. There is nothing in this world like standing in a wheat field, with only the sound of the wind rustling through the wheat. Nothing.

Prairie Sky 5

With that sound as the score, I watched a Technicolor display of the sun painting an ever changing picture in front of me.

Prairie Sky 4

Prairie Sky 3

3-D Imax be damned! I will take a front-row seat to a natural show like this over a movie every time!

The Voices cursed me for not bringing popcorn.

These images are better seen at a higher resolution, which you can get over on my web gallery, here.

To see more of my blog posts from Western Canada and the U.S., click here and use the "newer" and "older" links at the bottom to move through the posts.

* With apologies to Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

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