As a young girl, I spent a great deal of time at my aunt’s cabin on the Platte River near Fremont, Nebraska. The cabin acted as a gathering place for family and friends, and I have wonderful memories of family functions and parties with friends. But my fondest memories are of the river itself. My mom and dad would take me “river walking,” as my dad called it. The river was usually low and slow in the late summer, and the three of us would stroll, shoeless, downstream, water barely reaching my knees in most places. Every twist and turn of the river offered something new and exciting: a wading heron who flew off when we got too close, the skeletal remains of a menacing looking fish with scary, jagged teeth, and sand-colored toads leaping along the banks, escaping the dangers that might lurk beneath the water’s surface. The cool water mitigated the heat of the afternoon sun, and in places my feet would sink into slimy mud that would swallow me and hold me captive until one of my parents would come and yank me free, a freedom that lasted only until I purposely got stuck again. The sun always seemed to set too soon, and then I found myself in the car headed back to my real life in Omaha.
I never really paid much attention to where that water came from or where it was headed. For me, back then, it was enough to know that the river, that stretch of river, was there for me to enjoy at that particular moment of my life. The water’s future or past seemed irrelevant. If you had asked me then what lay upstream or downstream, I might have guessed that it was the same as the flat river that I loved to explore, shallow and braided.
My current (soon to be past) position as social media intern for the Platte Basin Timelapse project has afforded me the opportunity to see this same river from a different perspective. Hours upon hours of viewing footage from our many cameras has allowed me to witness the winter snows of the Rockies of Colorado and Wyoming, and the spring melting that feeds the raging creeks and streams that merge to form the great river. I ’ve watched as that river is diverted and dammed to irrigate the vast farms of the Platte Valley, and as it provides recreational opportunities for thousands of Nebraskans. I have watched the waters nourish the prairies and quench the thirst of the wild inhabitants of the surrounding lands. I’ve grown to understand the importance of this river basin to man and nature, and that its future is in our hands. I hope that what I do can contribute in a small part to that future so children from other generations can explore the river and love it and enjoy their own special moments.
Lastly, I’d like to say thank you to the Platte Basin Timelapse project and its community for allowing me to be a small part of this amazing venture. I leave you with some of my favorite images that our time-lapse cameras have captured over the years.