Wyoming Spring Creek-Space, the final frontier…

Space. Vast chasms of it, unbroken by tree or building or person as it sprawls outward limitlessly into the pale blue horizon. In an open prairie like this, space seems to take on the illusion of weight, a sort of ubiquitous presence that you can almost glean in creases of river beds and stretching green plains. It’s a subtle silence that only reaches a dull roar once the Milky Way has marched an army of stars across the sky. In an open prairie like this, space warps distances and sense of scale. If you were to stare directly at this night sky you could almost convince yourself it was an eight foot ceiling. People hiking across what looks like a small valley are transfigured into toy soldiers as they reach the sandstone ridge on the other side. 

As someone who has never been in a landscape quite like this it seems a miraculous thing, so opposite to the columns of skyscrapers and crowded city blocks of Pittsburgh. In the city you are surrounded by an environment wholly constructed by man, an artificial, manufactured space that shields us from the environment, from the horizon, cutting off our awareness of the natural world hampering our understanding of it. Making this kind of space seem transformative, just standing within the landscape of Wyoming forces you to broaden your perspective and open up your thinking in a way that is no longer constrained by traffic lanes and sidewalks. The Western landscape in combination with the ecological and geological lessons we learn demands that we view the natural world in greater scale not only for distance, but also in time. The space between now and then is visible as we tread amongst remnants of days long ago as surface erosion unearths arrowheads, byproducts of tools in the form of flakes of chert, and rock tepee rings left over from the Native Americans that once inhabited this land hundreds of years ago. Outcrops, mountains, and cuts in earth let us see into the layers of the past and read the geological history present at our feet. 

In the little space that we have explored of the Wyoming Preserve we have been rewarded by the sightings of prairie dogs, small horned lizards, and swift foxes scampering across the land as well as one of the brightest, fullest rainbows I have ever witnessed. While mosquitos continue to be the bane of our existence when the wind isn’t there to chase them away, the tiny enemy aircrafts swarm like the greedy, gluttonous vampires they are. As a result a sharp scent of sagebrush intermixed with bug spray and sunscreen loft along the wind. Storm fronts move quickly over this expanse, spreading wide over the land casting shadows of dark clouds that let out a spat of rain and lightning only to puff onward minutes later to reveal the hot sun once more. The landscape shifts from in a varying spectrum of greens, beige, and brown as the presence of water dictates. As we continue our exploration of the Western frontier I hope to examine how my own perception of space changes and my perspective along with it.

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