snow


The snow of winter has a way of draping its white over everything.  The trees become lined emphasizing their structure and branches.  The ground becomes white showing the curves and hips of hills.  At the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus is a wonderful sculpture setting of cows.  These bigger than life animals are resting peacefully in their urban setting.  The snow has draped over them also, quietly emphasizing their repose and seeming indifference to the weather.  They’re a great reminder to me to accept the weather, accept the snow, and appreciate its beauty.

We’ve quickly moved from late fall to snowy winter.  The last two weeks have brought snowfall after snowfall, some were quite significant!  The forests and woods take on a whole new feeling with winter.  Stand still amongst the trees and there’s a quiet that surrounds you.  After a minute or so there’s a rustle in the remaining oak leaves that are now brittle with winter’s cold.  Eventually the birds ignore your presence and go about their singing and flitting from branch to branch.  The snow has marked the direction of the storm on the sides of the trees.  And as the sun clears the forest’s edge it lightens the entire area and sparkles off the whiteness all around.

The cold has settled in and the lakes are freezing.  Throughout the day I watched the clouds and the snow move in.  The wind would pick up and blow the snow down the lake, forming whirlwinds of white skimming the ice.  As quickly as the snow came in, then the sun would come out.  The ice would creak and moan as the heat from the sun combatted the cold of the ice.  There were sub-sonic groans that pierced the air.  And then the cycle would repeat – snow then sun then snow.  But before sunset the skies cleared and there was a beautiful and quiet full moonrise.  It lifted over the opposite shore and trees and eventually directed its light on the snow-covered and ice-cracked lake, littered with leaves now encased in the ice.

It was a cold and wintry day last Sunday that even included a snowfall.  We were inside looking out and not enjoying this winter weather in mid-May.  But it seemed to invigorate all the birds in the area as they were coming in and out of the yard, looking for food on the ground and in the feeders.  We put some orange slices in a hanging feeder and realized they were a magnet for the birds.  This Baltimore oriole became very vigilant in guarding what he saw as “his” oranges.  There were a number of Rose-breasted grosbeaks that challenged him, and only occasionally won the challenge.  All these birds were a welcome colorful sight on the cold drab day, and a delight to watch.

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.

Last weekend brought yet another snowfall (which we are all hoping is the last large snow of this winter season).  It was a beautiful snow – large flakes that drifted down and settled on everything.  The tree branches were outlined in snow, showing their structure.  The woods were quiet except for the sound of my snowshoes; with snow depths up to 20 inches snowshoes were required.  I love being out in nature during a snowfall.  Everything is magically softened and the world is enveloped in a special quiet.

Last weekend we ventured to Hayward, Wisconsin to enjoy the American Birkebeiner (aka the Birkie).  The largest cross-country ski race in North America draws thousands of people – skiers, friends, family, observers – to this small north woods town.  Weather conditions were much more favorable this year as there was an excess of snow for the course.  As the skiers make their way across Hayward Lake and enter the town, they ski up the Birkie Bridge which takes them over US Highway 63 and then down Main Street to the finish line.  Spectators crowd the sidewalks of Main Street ringing cow bells, cheering, and offering encouragement while celebrating with brats, beer, Bloody Marys, and cheese curds.  It’s a wonderful celebration of winter and the athletes.

« Previous PageNext Page »