Here in Minnesota and Wisconsin we are going through our shoulder time from fall to winter. It’s a time that varies from year to year and also varies in its length. We had snow and cold in mid-October and then an unusual warm stretch in early November, causing the lake ice to begin to freeze, then thaw, and now freeze again. It’s a lovely time to observe the transition with open water and lake ice all at the same time.
With a warm glow the late afternoon sun lit up the opposite shoreline and allowed the trees to be reflected in the open water. The ice had been pushed to the north end of the lake by the strong winds that had blown the previous day. But this for moment, stillness and light came together.
We are experiencing our transition season as winter slowly gives way to spring. In northern Minnesota and Wisconsin it means give and take – warmer temps one day and snow the next. But our waters are starting to thaw, allowing open water for the birds that are beginning to migrate into the area. The oak trees are holding onto their rust-colored leaves, and the air has been heavy with moisture creating some foggy conditions. It almost seems like fall but this time we know there will be green in the landscape and ice-free lakes and ponds soon.
As a photographer, I consider myself a visual person. My eyes are constantly moving across whatever scene is in front of me, scanning for details, for patterns, for the beauty of the scene. Yet this week I’ve been attuned to the sounds in the air as we transition from winter to spring. With temperatures above freezing throughout the whole week, we’ve been serenaded with the sweet sound of running water. The gutters and drainspouts are gurgling once again — a sound we haven’t heard since early December. The street curbs are filled with water running from the snowmelt down to the storm drains. Every house and building overhang is dripping as the snow is melted by a warmer and brighter sun. As I was walking in the neighborhood this afternoon my ears caught the sound of a group of young boys playing catch and the distant radio broadcast of a spring training baseball game. I think spring is the one season that’s announced by a cacophony of sounds, all that are welcome with the promise of warmer weather, green grass, blue skies and warm sunshine. Yes, we still have mounds of snow and the sidewalks are becoming small canals as the water melts with nowhere to run, but we have hope in this annual ritual.