landscapes


It had been a windy and cloudy day, but as the evening wore on the wind began to die down.  We were fishing as the air became still.  Eagles were flying overhead and the crappies were biting.  The dark clouds were still above but the sun moved below them lighting up the opposite shore.  The leaves were full on some of the trees and yet others had only begun to leaf out, filtering the sunlight as it came through the trees.  The low light and the calmness created a beautiful reflection of the end of a spring (finally!) day.

Advertisements

We were exploring at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area this past weekend.  Located in Burnett County in northwestern Wisconsin, this is a globally rare landscape of pine and oak with a very sandy soil.  It’s quite startling to see the Barrens after driving miles through forested land; all of a sudden the sky opens up and the vista is wide with rolling hills and a prairie-like view.  The ground near the road was black where there had been a prescribed burn the day before, and the air had a pronounced smell of smoke.  After about 20 minutes, we saw smoke to the east and found they were doing some spot fires to finish what had been started the day before.  I’m excited to return to the area in the next week or so — the grass will be turning green with our recent rains, and soon the wildflowers will sprout and bloom.

And just like that, spring is here.  We’ve gone from brown to green within one week.  Some spring rain showers, bright sunshine, and warm temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s have caused spring to burst forth in Minnesota.  Grass is now green, and the trees and shrubs are bursting with their leaf buds.  Green shoots are visible from the warming soil, and I have even seen some daffodils that are blooming.  Our lilac bush has opened its tight buds into the warm air.  And luckily the snowfall predicted for this weekend did not appear.  Quickly our landscape will continue to change.

Last weekend we made a quick trip to Milwaukee.  Although it is further south than the Twin Cities, the temperatures were still cool and there was a brisk wind blowing.  We spent a few hours at the Milwaukee Art Museum and then drove north along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It was a wonderful drive close by the lake, then through some neighborhoods of large historic mansions and many public parks.  The lake was a beautiful almost-turquoise color that contrasted nicely with the clouds.  As cool as it was, people were out enjoying the day with its promise of spring.

Tuesday was a perfect spring day with white clouds, warm temperatures, and the smell of spring in the air.  There were hints of green in the lawns, buds were evident in the tree branches high above, and birds were singing their spring songs.  The white clouds danced in the brilliant blue sky as we softened ourselves to the warmth of the sun.  It was wonderful, and I was so thankful for getting outside and soaking it all up.  Because….the following day brought wet heavy snow, howling winds, and cold temperatures.  Winter has returned for a few days.

We are experiencing our transition season as winter slowly gives way to spring.  In northern Minnesota and Wisconsin it means give and take –  warmer temps one day and snow the next.  But our waters are starting to thaw, allowing open water for the birds that are beginning to migrate into the area.  The oak trees are holding onto their rust-colored leaves, and the air has been heavy with moisture creating some foggy conditions.  It almost seems like fall but this time we know there will be green in the landscape and ice-free lakes and ponds soon.

A week ago I spent some time at Amnicon Falls State Park in northern Wisconsin.  The snow was especially deep this past winter and it is starting to melt making the rivers full, especially as they near their end.  The Amnicon River was used in the mid-1800’s for logging and it eventually flows into Lake Superior.  All the snow melt from upstream gets directed over the falls that are in the state park.  It was a thundering sound that I heard as I walked next to the Upper Falls.  The river is open in some places and in others it flows under snow and ice.  The falls aren’t completely open but it won’t be long before the snow and ice are gone.  A bit further past the Upper Fall is a lovely walking bridge that crosses the river as it spills over the Lower Falls and eventually to the lake.

Next Page »