A week ago we headed north to visit a friend near Duluth.  The weather was sunny but still cold; we were excited to be at 15 degrees!  We all strapped on our snowshoes and headed out into the woods.  Along for the trip was Halo – a happy, snow loving dog who was running rings around us.  Halo is enjoying life now after suffering while with a previous owner.  She is missing one of her hind legs, but seeing her jump through the deep snow, bounding ahead of us, and loving every minute of it, you’d never know that it might slow her down.  She was in her element and reminded us all of embracing the seasons that we have and enjoying them to their fullest, no matter!


cold-in-the-woods-15405_staatWe seem to be on a weekend snow schedule – the last three weekends have brought fresh snow.  However  this weekend’s precipitation has been followed by blue sky and plunging temperatures.  I was snowshoeing in the woods yesterday morning.  Temps were the highest they were going to be, 5 above, and the wind was starting to blow.  I listened to the sound of my snowshoes dropping into the six inches of fresh light snow, and the wind that was picking up the powder and blowing it sideways.  The brittle oak leaves would rustle in the strong gusts, then settle down to silence.  It was eerily quiet and foreboding of the subzero temps that were fast approaching.  Then I heard the sound of a snow plow truck, and I was reminded that I was still in the city and the “woods” I was enjoying are actually a part of the University of Minnesota golf course.  A quick dose of reality that there is nature all around us, and it offers up its beauty to us whenever we want to get out and appreciate it.

Waiting for spring 4749_StaatsWith moderating temperatures, we headed out for some snowshoeing last night.  North of the Cities is a small Isanti County Park called Wayside Prairie County Park.  We pulled into the parking lot an hour or so before sunset with the hopes of exploring this small park.  We traipsed across the frozen lake, following snowmobile tracks, to the southern shoreline.  This lovely little cabin was perched on the hillside, overlooking the frozen lake to the west.  With its tiki torches still attached to the dock supports and the yellow lawn chair overturned at the end of the dock, it looked like the party had ended right before the start of winter.  As we gazed at the sunset reflection in the window of the cabin, it was fun to dream of what this little lake is like in the middle of a warm summer, after the spring melt.  We toasted the summer to come, then turned around and snowshoed back across the lake, remembering that winter will loosen its hold on us eventually.

luminaries-at-batb-0127_staatsValentine’s Day on frozen Lake Superior — what a great way to celebrate a winter’s evening!  Chequamegon Bay is at the southwest corner of Lake Superior, surrounded by the towns of Ashland and Washburn, Wisconsin.  For the past 13 years the residents of the area come together to celebrate the cold of winter with a ski and snowshoe race across the frozen bay — the Book across the Bay.  This event is unique in that it begins at 6:30pm, and the course is lit by hundreds of frozen luminaries marking the route along the ice.  The event draws over 2,000 participants skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking.  This year’s route was changed at the last minute because of four days of warm temperatures and a big thaw.  The snow that had covered the frozen lake became liquid, then froze again into a huge sheet of ice.  The race organizers changed the course to a loop and spent hours “churning” the ice to lay a path that provided some traction for skiers and walkers.  Their hard work paid off and it was a beautiful event, accompanied by light snowflakes.  After crossing the finish line there was a huge bonfire to warm up at and a post-race party in a giant heated tent.  Hay was scattered on the frozen ground and hay bales were stacked around the perimeter.   Everyone was treated to a  hot chili feed, delicious local beer, and dancing to a great live band.  It’s a party of the best kind, and a delightful way to enjoy and appreciate our winter weather and scenery.