snow


We are seeing the start of our spring thaw.  Warmer temps and bright sunshine have had a significant impact on our snow pack.  Slowly we are seeing brown lawns reappear and some garden beds have small green shoots near the ground.  The lakes have a much longer way to go before they are clear of ice.  Gradually the ice near the shoreline goes out, but still the lake has a good 12 inches of ice.  The snow on the surface has become mushy and uneven, and eventually will melt completely.  The silence of winter is also giving way to the sounds of spring.  When I walked out onto the lake I could actually hear the snow melting, and high overhead the Canada geese, the ducks, the swans, and the sandhill cranes were all calling and honking.

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The snow started Friday night.  After 24 hours it was still coming down, whipped by the wind into whiteout conditions.  Another 12 hours later the wind had calmed somewhat and the flurries were lighter, but still coming down.  The snow was blown into drifts, and it was hanging precariously from the roof eaves.  Anywhere from 10 to 12 inches were on the ground.  As I headed out to start shoveling my eyes caught sight of the fence.  The snow was perched carefully on the railings and even filled in the horizontal line to the caps of the posts.  At the bottom the snow had drifted partway up.  Two hours of shoveling and the snow was still coming down.  Although this sort of snow is not unheard of in Minnesota in April, it is anything but spring-like, and most Minnesotans are dreaming of green grass.  Soon!

Easter and April mean spring.  Spring means warmth and colors.  Except when Mother Nature decides to put a white icing over the landscape.  I spent some time at the McNeely Conservatory yesterday morning photographing the spring flowers.  Outside the weather was cold and windy and snowing, but the conservatory was the perfect antidote to the weather.  I was surrounded by the smells of tulips and daffodils, hyacinths and magnolias.  In the bonsai section I found this lovely azalea.  Its diminutive structure seemed to mirror the snow-covered tree outside, while its brilliant colors were the opposite of the landscape beyond the window.

The dawn was cold and crisp.  Although the temperatures have been above freezing during the day, they still dip into the teens and twenties at night.  The multiple inches of snow on the lake have melted and frozen many days in a row, and what snow remains is only an inch or two deep on the lake.  The sunrise was an explosion of color greeting the day, and some of those brights were reflected in a portion of snow-free ice on the lake.  I am always energized after sharing in the beauty of a dawn like this.

It was sunny and warm yesterday – perfect conditions for snowshoeing.  We headed off into the woods without a specific destination but rather to explore.  The snow was still deep where is was sheltered from the full sunlight making our snowshoes a definite requirement for any navigation.  There were numerous deer trails and turkey tracks throughout the woods.  After awhile we came upon a small clearing that was more open to the sunlight.  The shadows fell strong upon the snow, in undulating lines and patterns —  a dynamic statement of the beauty of winter.

Soon the snow will melt, and soon it will be spring!  We enjoyed a quick vacation to Salt Lake City the past few days.  There were remnants of snow when we arrived, but the sun was warm and the temperatures climbed each day.  Being from snow-bound Minnesota, I was thrilled to see these lovely spring crocus –  fighting off the cold and the snow of winter, bravely blooming and reminding us that spring will conquer winter and we will be surrounded by color once again. Soon.

This morning was cold and windy.  The sky was cloudy and the air was filled with fine sleet and tiny snow.  Winter still has its grip, and we were on a drive exploring.  The forests can be thick or thinned.  In this one area was a wonderful stand of birch and aspen, with a few small oaks in their midst.  The colors and contrasts caught my eye –  white on white, gray on white, and brown and white.  Certainly a limited color palate, but beautiful in its starkness.

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