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.
With our spring thaw in full force, I wandered along the banks of the Mississippi River yesterday. Where normally the river is ice-covered, there was only a thin layer of ice that lined the shoreline. The wind was brisk causing the clouds to hurry quickly across the sky. Fishermen were active on the river, launching boats and heading out to their favorite areas with nary a thought of ice. The scene was more like one from early April, but we’ll embrace and welcome spring at any time it makes its appearance.
We have some wonderful friends near Wabasha, Minnesota that have a vineyard on the bluff above the Mississippi River. Each year we journey south to help with the harvest, and today the grapes were calling us. We left the Twin Cities with a clear sunrise, but as we headed towards the river the fog became thicker and thicker. Even when we got to Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi is so wide it’s called a lake, there was no lake to see. I love to photograph in the fog because it can create a clean palette to work with designs and lines, and we stopped along our trip so I could do just that. But as we headed up the bluff, away from the river to the vineyard, we broke out into the sunshine once again. Some of the trees in the area are just starting to show some yellows and golds for fall colors. From the top of the bluff I was amazed to see the layers in this photograph: the grape vines are loaded with grapes, the trees are showing some color, the Mississippi River is socked in with fog, and the Wisconsin bluffs are visible on the other side with blue sky above. It was a beautiful day to be outside picking grapes, visiting our friends and the others that were gathered to help with the harvest.
We wandered south of the Twin Cities yesterday on a dreary, rainy Saturday. August has been unusually wet with heavy downpours occurring frequently, resulting in high rivers and standing water in many fields. All this was noticeable as we drove through the countryside, but it became more apparent on a stop in the town of Cannon Falls. Here, the Little Cannon River flows alongside and through the town. In a “normal” August, average rainfall for Cannon Falls is four inches. To date this month they have had close to double that – almost eight inches. And with yesterday’s rain continuing to fall, it was obvious as the river stretched out of its banks. The falls were roaring and tossing the brown, sediment-filled water into the air as it tumbled toward the Cannon River which then flows on to the Mississippi River.
We just returned from a day trip to the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona, Minnesota. Located right on the banks of the Mississippi River, the museum is a hidden treasure. The main reason for our trip was to see a special exhibit of 70 Ansel Adams prints. I was thrilled and amazed to see and study the creativity that Adams brought to his final prints. His use of black and white filters and his burning and dodging brought his images to the final representation of what he was seeing and experiencing when he captured the image. On our way back to the Twin Cities, we crossed over the River and followed the highway north along the Wisconsin side. Just outside of Pepin, Wisconsin we passed this amazing fence. Amidst the snowy landscape and the overcast sky that mimicked the ground cover, we stopped to marvel at this bright fence made entirely of winter skis. The color was eye-catching and the whole idea reminded me that just like we had observed at the Ansel Adams exhibit, there is creativity all around us.