December 30, 2009 - Colors of Winter


Yesterday Sharon, Happy, and I took a walk down the middle of the creek.
We donned our snowshoes (well, Happy had his on) and checked out the ice.
What looks like a long crack down the middle in this photo is actually a mountain bike track, (someone's Pugsley, with studded tires, I suspect) so it must be safe. At least for one person on a bike.
Seriously though, I expected worse after we got dumped with a big, cold weather snowstorm with about eight inches of dry powder, then pelted with rain, hail, and more rain that froze as rutted slush everywhere. It's rough going in the car, like wagon trail material. My friendly naturalist Scott from Wood Lake said their marsh was only about two inches of ice and six inches of slush, as the powdery snow had insulated the thin ice layer they started with. They have a lot of runoff inlets into the pond though. Not so in our neck of the woods, at least for now our creek was five inches of clear black in most places, but the top layer was rough and crusty like a good round of bread.

Hap enjoys the round earth.
You can see the snow is so bulletproof in this photo that the snowshoe cleats barely make it in.
Some people say that in Minnesota, 'Winter has no color' or that it's a 'Monochromatic Season.'
I think our eyes just get adjusted to it or maybe that we're squinting from the cold too much (as we were on this day.)


There is something about the sun around the solstice that tells you what time of year it is.
Maybe it goes way back into my animal roots, or brings out the built-in 'bio-clock', but to me the sun being so low and yellow in the afternoon, it's drawing out the long shadows, the blues of the snow and the sky on a clear day in December make it hard to duplicate any other time.
There is definitely a 'starkness' about it because of all the silhouettes and harsh shadows, but I still wouldn't trade it for a life in Tahiti. Mmmm, maybe a vacation in Tahiti, but not a life.
Ice, cold ice. Is it a living thing?

It has some of the definitions. Maybe even more than some organic Eukaryota or really smart computers. It's so ethereal, amorphic. How long does something have be without form to be amorphic anyway...?
It's ice, it's cold, accept no substitute. That stuff in your glass on the beach in Tahiti, that's not ice.
This is ice. It's gravity's offspring. As are we all, I guess.
Speaking of, I can't remember falling in snowshoes as many times as I have during this short season more than any time in the past. I haven't dunked my camera 'too' badly, yet, but I'm pushing the envelope. So far I've covered forwards and backwards, stay tuned for more variations if the conditions ensue. Must be these new-fangled bindings.

Onward, and fallsward.
Minnehaha Falls, hopefully.

Next stop, Minnehaha Station, have your tickets ready.

Of course the track is only about 80 ft. long and not connected to anything, plus it's buried beneath ten inches of snow, so put your thinking cap on over your stocking cap and pretend. I can almost picture a little station with "Minnehaha" written on it, to drop us off by the Falls. How quaint.
The Falls show us blue ice with a tinge of slush. Nature likes to mix it up and paint with a big brush. A huge brush. And a microscopic one at the same time. It's wild. Literally.

Okay, let's head back, I'm cold, my nose is about to drop off.
What? That? That oval? No, it's not a skating rink, that's the road!
Wait, you're right, I guess it is a skating rink. Silly me.
Before we get back and put our boots on the heater though, I have a little unfinished business to take care of. Hang in there, nose.
I posted the other day about 'The Pump' and it's dubiously interesting history.
I felt that I couldn't really come up with any photos that showed it in a contextual view (I know, shame on me) so I stopped and popped a couple during our hike from the creek's point of view:

Here's a wide-angle view of the little inlet, with the pump stanchion in the middle, the brick platform, and the leaning Catalpa, long may she wave.

Strange little deal. Can you imagine a deer living in those 'woods' for a couple months?
The freeway is right back by the electrical towers in the background.
By the way, I called the DNR when we first met the deer down there,and asked if there was anything they could do, as I was afraid she was going to get hit by a car for sure. They said, well no, they don't do anything with animals in the city unless there is a threat to human life. Fair enough. I tried to convince them that a deer running down any of the local streets or out onto a busy freeway qualified, but they weren't buying it. Well, I guess they were right. I assume she wandered back to the State Park, about three miles away. Don't know, never saw her again.

Once a dove, always a dove. (The proper name for a pigeon is a Rock Dove...)
Happy Winter!