We’d finished our “work” for the day and it was mid-afternoon on an unseasonably balmy day for the North with a temperature of 34 degrees. We loaded up the sled with our ice fishing equipment and headed out across the lake. Leaving a trail behind us, we settled near the middle of the lake, set up our portable fish house and settled in for some comfortable fishing. With protection from the wind, we fished for a couple of hours coming back with crappies, sunfish, and one Northern pike. We packed up after dusk and were beckoned back to the cabin with its warm lights. It was a delightful end to a mid-winter’s day.
Yesterday we left the Twin Cities before dawn and drove north 150 miles. The sun came out on a record-setting warm day with temperatures in the 50’s. The areas north still have snow covering the ground, and the lakes are frozen enough for trucks and fishermen to be enjoying cutting holes in the ice and finding fish below. Even the snowmobilers were running across the lakes and land too. Early in the morning the unpaved roads were frozen, but as the day progressed they became mud and clay with ruts throughout. There was no way to avoid them so we continued and had a wonderful time enjoying the countryside, the lakes, and the activities, stopping once to clear off the back window of the car. By the time we returned home my car was hardly recognizable. All that mud and clay seemed to have adhered to the car and dried in place. An extensive trip to the car wash was needed this morning, but I’ve kept the memories of an unusual spring day in February.
I got up and out of the house before dawn yesterday, in search of a photograph to show a Minnesota winter morning. The air was cold, but not bitterly so, and the wind was still. The eastern sky promised a bit of color so I headed to a city lake. Our winter has been cold enough, long enough to freeze the lakes and they are now a winter wonderland of activities. Hockey nets are in place on many lakes, snow has been dusted off to allow skating areas, ice houses are seen with people fishing, and even cars are driving on the frozen lakes. This scene caught my attention – the summer swimming beach is anything but hospitable in winter, yet we are reminded that the lifeguard is off duty, at least until the winds blow summer temperatures our way.
Our landscape that was brown and cold last week has been transformed into winter. Daytime temperatures in the single digits, subzero temps at night, and snow have brought the look and feel of winter. Ponds and lakes that were previously frozen with clear ice are now covered with snow, and are once again being populated with fish houses. The ducks and geese have all headed south in search of open water. And we are learning again how to drive in ice and snow. How quickly this seasonal change has taken place!
Minnesotans are happy that we are having a winter! The temperatures have remained below freezing and we couldn’t be happier! Yes, it may sound strange to those living in warmer and more temperate climates that we’re glad it’s cold, but with this more “normal” winter weather we can get out and enjoy the activities that make winter memorable. The neighborhood ice rinks have hockey games at night, the skating rinks are filled with graceful skaters and those that aspire to their grace. The golf courses are filled with cross-country skiers and snowshoers, and our lakes are open for fishing again. All it takes is a trip out onto the ice, either on foot or by car or truck (if the ice is thick enough), something to drill a hole in the ice, a line to drop through the hole, and the patience and luck to be successful. And last night there was a plethora of hopeful people outside ice fishing on a nearby lake. It also helped that there was a winter sunset that put on a beautiful display, as if beckoning us out to savor the winter weather and this sunset.