After a couple of years here, I began to notice the beauty of the Kansas prairie. I wonder if that wasn’t partly due to the overpowering immensity of the sky. It may sound strange to someone from the Midwest, but in Colorado, the mountains shield you, buttressing the world against the horizon. The sheer power of the Kansas sky lies in the magnitude of its enormity.
Clear days in Kansas vary between aqua, azure and cerulean. They’re similar to sunny days in Colorado but with distinctly different hues. Sunrises here are brilliant and overpowering. Sunsets cut across the landscape in large swathes of pink and yellow.
Solitary clouds often meander along, usually not too far from the ground — stray, aerial tumbleweeds. When gray banks of clouds gather, the sky somehow draws much closer.
Thunderstorms dominate the sky and land. The angry, dangerous skies I read about in books as a kid are vivid reality here. The entire darkening vista changes to a threatening, roiling amber twilight and an uncanny intensity settles over everything. You’ll see locals here step outside, watching for tell-tale funnels and tornadoes.
When the storms arrive, they are beautiful.
In Colorado, thunder often sounds like an intensely brief, barking crackle. Distant thunder in Kansas begins with long, deep timpani rumbling and crescendoing across the landscape. When a storm is above you, the thunder reverberates like cannon fire. Your insides rattle and the air around you wobbles. When the thunderstorms roll away, that big, uncontainable, blue expanse welcomes you.
In Kansas, there’s nothing small about the sky. ~JF