Wisconsin


There’s something very simple and abstract to an image when you remove the surrounding landscape.  Lines become more pronounced.  Colors, or the lack of colors in some areas, takes on a different significance.  This scene caught my eye when we were out boating.  The golds and greens at the top of the image are the reflection of the far side of the lake as the late evening sun is illuminating it.  Some of the water ripples pick up those colors too.  The lines of the wake are interrupted by the lily pads which are now starting to appear throughout the lake; they contribute their own tension to the image.  And the entire photo shifts from the warmth of the sun-lit trees to the cool blues and whites of the reflected sky.  It’s truly an abstract image yet it pulls together all the things we cherish about summer in the North.

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This past week there was a full moonrise – the strawberry moon, as it’s called.  Although I can’t attest to seeing a strawberry tint where I was, the moonrise was beautiful.  The sun had set, the wind had stilled, and the night air held the warmth and humidity of the day.  Slowly the moon rose above the trees on the opposite shore, clearing them and throwing its reflection into the lake below.  If you listened for awhile you could hear the cry of a loon.  And in the grasses by the side of the lake, the fireflies started to blink.  It was a beautiful night — just the kind we dream of during the bitter cold of winter.

We just got back from a 425 mile ride along the Wisconsin River, starting in the northeast corner of Wisconsin in Eagle River and ending in Prairie du Chien.  For seven days, we got to experience the beauty of the state –  from the lakes and woods in the north, to the agriculture and dairies, to the bluffs and the hills of the southwest.  What none of us were ready for was six days of riding in the rain.  Although it didn’t rain entire days, each day necessitated rain jackets and rain gear.  And after five consecutive wet days, this was the scene overnight in Baraboo –  shoes and clothes lined up on a gym floor hoping to dry out before morning.  But as luck would have it, it wasn’t really necessary because we woke to rain again on the sixth day.  Because of all the rain and storms, the Wisconsin River was over its banks and was roaring downstream –  an amazing sight to see.  The seventh day, our final day of riding, dawned with sunshine and blue sky.  Needless to say,  it was a treat to finish our ride without rain.

The seasons move quickly from spring into summer and this year seems to have moved faster than normal.  Everything has turned to a beautiful bright green — the color of new growth, late spring, and early summer.  We’ve had enough rain to keep things fresh and the heat hasn’t set in yet.  This graceful fern was backlit in the garden, accentuating each leaf and its lovely color.  Its beauty was stunning, and I also know it will be fleeting as the green will become darker and not nearly as bright.  It’s a reminder to me to appreciate the season and the time we’re in now as it changes ever-so-quickly and what we see today will not be the same tomorrow.

High heat and humidity can only last for so long.  Eventually the atmosphere needs to clear it all out.  As the sunshine disappeared, the air stilled and the clouds moved in.  There was just a line of light on the far shoreline, but the rest of the sky was filled with billowing clouds – grey and dark.  Their reflection in the eerie calm of the lake seemed ominous.  A few minutes later the rain started in big drops, the wind picked up, and the rain became steady giving us the much-needed moisture.

The temperature dropped down into the 30’s overnight.  When I woke in the morning, the sun was trying to break through the fog and steam that was coming up off the lake.  The air was quiet, without a breeze, but it was filled with the sound of birds –  blue jays, robins, woodpeckers, geese, ducks, and loons.  It was an early, chilly, and beautiful beginning to a sunny and warm day.

Spring arrived quickly in the past week.  There were hints of green showing up in the trees and the grass.  The ice moved off the lake and the open water was an invitation for geese, ducks, loons, eagles, and the people wanting to fish.  It was a flurry of activity all generated by the unofficial end of winter.  By early evening it was quiet and peaceful again.  A light rain shower had moved through the area, the sun was beginning to set, and the lake had calmed.  And as if to punctuate the end of a delightful spring day, a rainbow appeared in the sky and was reflected in the still of the water below.

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