On Friday, April 13, Spring Storm Xanto was beginning to form in western South Dakota and making its way to Pierre. School officials called off school expecting the storm to arrive in Pierre by 4:00 am. Naturally, I slept in and woke up to find no sign of snow! I texted a friend from Rapid City to see how much snow had fallen and if he had a snow day. He jokingly replied, “A nuclear fallout wouldn’t stop UPS!” We exchanged our usual banter and he asked me “what do you do on a snow day?” I replied, “if I can get in a long walk, have a nice lunch with a glass of wine, read a little and work in my studio it will be a very productive snow day!”
Thankfully, Xanto wasn’t as harsh to the Pierre area as expected. Area farmers and ranchers were especially concerned about their cattle during the peak of calving season and those concerned about area flooding in the coming months were thankful the area didn’t receive the 14 inches of snow originally forecasted. After the skies cleared Saturday morning, I was anxious to go for a drive to see the effects of the blizzard on the remaining ice on Lake Oahe and hike the snow covered bluffs to the frozen shoreline. I didn't have to convince my hiking friend to come along, so we made our way to Billy Goats trail head and layered up for the 30 mph gusts of cold wind. My brain loves water and when the site of a large crack in the reservoir’s ice appeared, it was like seeing one of my favorite paintings on exhibit. I stood in awe and studied its overall composition and scale.
It didn’t take long to warm up and adventure down the river bluffs to the icy shoreline. On our way down, I wanted to cross through a patch of tall grass and shoot a video inside the giant plumes. Once in the middle, the magic wand of calmness sprayed its sparkles over me and I became joyfully entranced, protected and grateful. No wonder the area’s wildlife seeks shelter in places like this. As we made our way to the shoreline the beach became soft, muddy and slices of open water appeared among the shifting chunks of floating ice. I was shocked by large boulders that shifted in the soft gumbo caused by glacier activity. The force of nature is incredibly powerful and beyond our understanding. It occurred to us that it’s only a small scale glacier compared to what it must of been like during the ice age millions of years ago.
The hike back up the bluff was a good reminder to work-out more, but my mind was grateful for the big dose of inspiration, mindfulness and creativity. I was reminded of a quote from The Nature Fix by Florence Williams, “Go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.”