Fishing at sunset

Sunset fishing 70667_StaatsOur Minnesota landscape has become much more winter-like.  Temperatures have remained below freezing for the past 10 days, allowing the lakes to freeze.  And with that the ice houses have started to go up and people are active once again around the lakes.  As I drove past this lake the other night, there was a very fine snow that was falling.  It was so delicate as to cause the sun to glow as it was starting to set below the cloudbank to the west.  In its own way it seemed to be announcing that all was right with the winter world in Minnesota.

Wherever you are as the calendar turns into the new year, I wish you joy and wonder, happiness and health in 2013.  Thanks to all of you that have been following my blog, and I hope you will continue to share in my weekly writings, photographs, and adventures.  Happy new year!

In the middle of the lake

The past week was all about winter here in the Twin Cities.  It was the St. Paul Winter Carnival with its ice and snow sculptures along with all the outdoor activities associated with the event.  I was fortunate to have a dear friend from the Seattle area here visiting (yes, people really do come to Minnesota for vacations!).  I wanted to show her something that’s unique to our area in the winter time besides all the piles of snow that are gracing our urban landscape.  So we headed north to the second largest lake in the state, Mille Lacs.  We got our road pass for the day and drove four plus miles out into the lake on the ice road.  How bizarre to look at my GPS and see the car symbol surrounded by blue water!  Just a reminder that there really is a lake underneath this layer of ice.  The lake is filled with fish houses now, as far as the eye can see.  Some are sitting out all by themselves, and others are close together forming their own little villages.  Although we didn’t see any large piles of fish sitting nearby, I’m sure the fishing must have been good on this blue-sky day.

Not your usual ice fishing houses

In Minnesota we are proud of our winter sports and activities.  Although many people don’t understand, there is a complete culture of ice fishing fanatics who count the days in winter until they can slide their ice houses out on the frozen lakes and pursue their catch of the day.  On a bay of Medicine Lake on the western side of Minneapolis you will find an unusual collection of what looks to be ice fishing houses.  But this is a different collection of people — this is a group of art shanties that are set up on the ice for about five weeks each year.  The collection of 20 “houses” includes a teepee shanty, dice shanties (where you can sit inside and play card games), and a dance shanty, where the music has a great beat,  and people keep warm by dancing on the wood floor with a chandelier overhead.  If one ventures further out on the lake, you’ll find the more usual collection of ice houses, with the dedicated fishermen and women, but Medicine Lake (and Minnesota) is big enough to cater to all types in this cold season of winter.

How we celebrate the full moon in Minnesota

ice-houses-full-moon-StaatsThis past weekend brought us the biggest and brightest full moon, and we were fortunate to have clear skies.  And since it’s Minnesota, and it’s cold here,  this is one of the most popular outdoor activities — ice fishing.   It’s still a bit unnerving to me to drive out on a frozen lake, but that’s exactly what we did on Saturday night.  What  we found was a large community of houses and people enjoying the evening with fishing and snowmobiling.  And the full moon didn’t let us down — it rose large and beautiful over a calm winter’s evening.  Later we unpacked our snowshoes and wandered through a beautiful scientific & natural area near the St. Croix River, illuminated completely by the full moon.  It was a perfect way to enjoy a beautiful Minnesota winter’s evening.