It was a cold day with a temperature of 16 degrees, but the sun was shining brilliantly and beckoned us outside. We packed our snowshoes and went to Hunt Hill Audubon Sanctuary in northwest Wisconsin. The wind was brisk, but if we could snowshoe along the tree line there was a welcome wind break. There was even protection from the wind as we headed across the prairie, and in the valleys of the steep hills we could bask in the sun’s heat. It was late afternoon so the sun threw its shadows across the landscape at a sharp angle. We soaked up the sun and the crisp fresh air of the day and enjoyed the exercise.
The snow had been falling for hours. To counter my cabin fever, I strapped on my snowshoes and headed into the woods. The air was filled with quiet except for the occasional wind that would stir and force the snow to fall from the branches. I hadn’t expected the snow to be so very deep in the woods, but it was tough and slow trudging through knee-deep snow. Needless to say it took me much longer than I had expected. But I was rewarded with beautiful snowy vistas, exercise in the fresh outdoors, and I was even serenaded by trumpeter swans in the distance.
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!
We 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.
With 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.