winter


Winter made its comeback this week with colder temperatures and snow.  The St. Croix River, which creates the border between northern Wisconsin and Minnesota was showing the results of the weather change.  Just last week the river was flowing freely, cascading southward to join up with the Mississippi River.  This week was another story.  The shoreline was filled with thin and uneven ice pushed up against the banks, yet the river flowed freely in the middle, carrying smaller sections of ice with the current.  If the cold temperatures continue the river will freeze completely and will remain frozen until the warmer temps of spring.

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The sun had just set, and the twilight was slowly diminishing.  On the opposite shore of the lake, the full moon rose quietly.  It gracefully cleared the trees and its light sent a column of brightness across the ice.  The weather has been unusually warm so the ice was not solid and clear.  The moon’s light showed the imperfections of the ice, along with the leaves that have been embedded during the colder nights.  It was a beautiful study of light, patterns, hardness and softness.

We just returned from a quick trip to Salt Lake City.  In addition to visiting family and enjoying Thanksgiving hospitality, we also hit the road for some sightseeing.  After reading about the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, we headed out to see how far we could go.  We had a wonderful brunch in Kamas and then left town on Utah State Route 150.  The road follows the Provo River as it tumbles down through the Uinta Mountains, and although the weather was unseasonably warm in northern Utah, there has been snow in the higher elevations.  We were only able to drive 15 miles, but we were not disappointed. The terrain is beautiful, and as the road climbed upward the landscape became white.  The patterns of the trees with their light and dark, the snow and blue sky — it was all a delight for the eyes.  And whenever we stopped en route, we could hear the river below as it moved over rocks and rapids.  As much as we marveled at the area on this shortened trip, we know we will return to travel and explore the full distance of the byway.

Last weekend was especially cold.  Temperatures dropped and the wind blew.  The snow that had fallen remained, and the lake was frozen.  Walking along the shoreline, I saw this leaf resting on the ice.  As the time went by I saw frost forming all along its edges, outlining it carefully as if Mother Nature was painting each crystal in its place –  so delicate, and yet so very temporary too.

The past three weeks we’ve had a Friday snowfall, and each one has been different.  One was wet and sloppy, one was a dusting of dry snow, and another was driven from the north.  This one painted the trees on one side only, outlining them from the wind direction.  Birch and aspen that are generally white had an extra coating of brighter white on the north.  With a cloudy sky overhead, this color photograph became a black and white scene without any alterations.  Each of these snows have been short-lived as they’ve been followed by warmer temperatures and sometimes rain.  But as the months progress, we know there will soon be the snow that stays and is increased with each storm – all the way until next spring.

We are in the middle of the transition from fall to winter in Minnesota, and Mother Nature has her own agenda.  With fall colors still evident, we had two quick snowfalls.  We love the four distinct seasons we have, yet we can be confused when the boundaries are blurred.  My neighbors have a beautiful euonymus tree in their front yard.  Its leaves are a wonderful pinkish-red in fall, and yet this week the branches were covered with snow.  The white made the leaves glow a bit brighter, and contrasted them to the more usual golds and browns that were scattered on the sidewalk below.  The wetness of the snow had its affect on the leaves; the next day the tree was bare and the ground was dappled with red.

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as wanting something to happen or be true.  So it is with spring this year.  We “hope” for sunshine, warmer temperatures, the bright colors of flowers.  We “hope” that the passing days bring longer hours of sunshine.  And yet Mother Nature has alternative plans.  This week we rode a roller coaster through snow and strong winds, rain, and the promise of warmer air.  Through it all we strive to embrace what it is, just as these runners ran through a deserted Como Park having the trails and snow to themselves in this once-again wintry landscape.

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