winter


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.

We have transitioned from fall to winter quickly.  The colors are gone, the air is cold, and the landscape is very neutral.  How quickly I’m missing the yellows, golds, reds, and deep burgundies that we experienced just a few short weeks ago!  The waters are already beginning to ice up and we have seen snow although it has not stayed.  Yet.  I needed one more post with brilliant colors before I could put fall behind me.

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.

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.

It was another bitterly cold day in the Twin Cities.  Suffering from cabin fever from our long drawn-out winter, we were looking for a diversion and headed to the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  The visit was wonderful –  a chance to forget about the weather and get absorbed in the art inside.  The building itself was designed by Frank Gehry and features his Deconstructivist style architecture.  The outside panels are a treat for photographers as they reflect the surroundings.   With the cold sunshine there were amazing abstracts, lines, designs, and colors.

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.

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