snow


The snow had been falling for hours.  To counter my cabin fever, I strapped on my snowshoes and headed into the woods.  The air was filled with quiet except for the occasional wind that would stir and force the snow to fall from the branches.  I hadn’t expected the snow to be so very deep in the woods, but it was tough and slow trudging through knee-deep snow.  Needless to say it took me much longer than I had expected.  But I was rewarded with beautiful snowy vistas, exercise in the fresh outdoors, and I was even serenaded by trumpeter swans in the distance.

 

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The cold and snow make us pause.  We can’t hurry and just do the things we normally do — walking on ice-covered paths takes attention and concentration, and five to ten minutes are the minimum just to bundle up to step out in sub-zero temperatures.  But pausing gives us time to observe and to appreciate.  This bubble becomes frozen in a near instant, with crystals forming on the inside and refracting the morning light as the sun rises over the new fallen snow.  Many other bubbles broke as they landed, too fragile to absorb an impact on the soft snow.  And even this bubble was short-lived.  The wind picked up and it shattered quickly; how happy I was that it commanded my attention for a short span.

Take a rainstorm that makes everything wet, drop the temperature so the rain changes to sleet, the sleet changes to ice, and then drop the temperature more and it snows.  And the snow clings to everything – the branches, the oak leaves, the pine trees, the sedges.  Our world became a winter wonderland with everything coated with white snow.  It was stunning, and it was so easy to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature in winter.

There is a small diner/restaurant in the neighborhood where we live.  I pass it almost every day when I’m out for a walk.  The window glass reflects the fallen leaves and their textures, along with the empty bike rack by the street, onto the plates and the table top.  Although the diner isn’t open when I go by it’s comforting to see the dishes and silverware and napkins sitting on the tables waiting for someone’s arrival… just as we are waiting for the upcoming holidays, winter, and snow with the turn of the calendar to December..

Backlit blowing snow 21409_StaatsDawn broke early with a fresh white snowfall.  The sun traveled upwards but the dark clouds to the east were moving in.  They seemed to curtain off the sunlight and it streamed onto the snow-covered lake.  With a sudden gust, the wind blew the resting snow off the tree branches and it cascaded to the ground, backlit by the sun.  It was momentary and it was breath taking –  all in a split second.

After a week or more with below freezing temperatures, we reveled in a day of 40 degrees and sunshine.  I took advantage of our “heat wave” and went for a long walk that took me through Como Park.  As I went past the lake it was wonderful to see the snow and ice patterns.  The dark areas in the photograph are clear ice, interrupted by the white snow that had been blown across the lake.  There were lots of big cracks going through the surface too.  Once we get back to our cold temperatures, the ice will continue to form….all a part of winter in Minnesota.

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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