Golden Plains living up to name

Monday, October 11, 2004

When we think of the Golden Plains of Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, the first images which come to mind are those of harvest-ready fields of corn and vast expanses of wheat land, stretching over the horizon.

Already impressive, the golden glory is enhanced each October when the region's tree leaves turn from green to multiple shades of yellow and gold. It's a reminder, repeated every autumn, that the seasons are changing.

The past weekend presented vivid highlights of the colorful transformation which is taking place. Driving through the countryside or walking along the streets of towns and villages, area residents were treated to a splendid spectacle of natural beauty.

Some sights turned heads, prompting passers-by to stop for a second glance. "Take a look at the tree on the corner of West First and M," said Matt Sehnert, who spotted the tree Sunday while walking with his wife, Shelly. "It's beautiful."

Matt has been made aware of the changing colors of seasons since childhood. His parents, Walt and Jean, live at 401 E. First Street, near the gorgeous maple known as "Mrs. Traphagan's Tree." It gained that name because the late East Ward teacher, Irene Traphagan, took her students to see the tree each autumn when it was at its colorful peak.

The town's trees -- predominated by elm, cottonwood and ash -- turn to yellow, gold and orange -- with nature's palate further brightened by brilliant red sumac and multiple-colored mums.

Impressive autumn sights also appear in all parts of the Golden Plains' region. Paul Schneider, who traveled the area extensively in his Tech Ag sales and service career, has many favorite scenic spots.

"If you have the time, drive up to Wellfleet and take the road angling northwest. Follow the valley. It's a fabulous view," Paul said.

It's one of many scenic routes worth taking. Schneider also points to the scenic splendor of the road east of the TV tower north of Hayes Center; the road on the edge of Oberlin heading southwest; the roads heading north from Maywood and Curtis to Cottonwood Canyon; the road north from St. Francis towards Haigler; the road west of Parks; the road north from Moorefield to Brady; and the road north and west of Atwood.

Join Matt and Paul. Take time to savor the scenic splendor of the Golden Plains. As colors approach their autumn pinnacle, we need to take time out from our busy trek thorough life to enjoy the natural beauty.

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