Beyond Your Backyard: Snow Covered Prairies

Snow Covered Prairies

For southern Minnesota at least it seems winter is truly here. As I watched the snow falling (and inevitably then blowing) outside my window today I was as enchanted as I always am when I’m tucked away in my warm house. Snow always seems to make winter feel more cozy. Its sparkling snowflakes cloak the land in insulating robes of white. I imagine prairie voles carving out tunnels underneath the lodged prairie grasses—seemingly safe with their added cover. As the winds calm and stillness descends, hungry raptors scan the earth for a flicker of movement that signals dinner louder than any bell.

As my mind wanders to the new stories happening on the prairie I also think about the practical benefits of snow. Snow is vitally important and sets the stage for the seasons that follow. Some snow facts:

  • Snow recharges our groundwater systems, which is where most of Minnesota’s drinking water comes from.
  • It helps conserve soil moisture, which is even more important this year as we ended the growing season in a drought across parts of the state.
  • There’s a reason why so many poems or stories about snow include the word “cloaking” or “ blanketing.” Snow literally is blanketing the Earth by insulating plants and soils, it prevents extreme temperatures from harming plants and limiting how deep the soil freezes, which in turn can protect plant roots.
  • It’s magical. When you look outside and everything  is covered in snow, it’s exciting. There’s a thrill to seeing the world suddenly changed. And with that fresh coat of glittering white, it suddenly seems that there’s a world of endless possibilities.

So, while you’re shoveling and plowing with the inevitable grumble or two, know that it’s all worth it for the benefit of snow shaping the seasons to follow.