Appreciating Snow…and Rain

This time of year is difficult for me. I’m an outdoors girl – I think we all know that by now – and it is tough to get in enough nature time. I’m not a morning person, but that matters less and less, since the sun isn’t a morning person right now either. Or an evening person. With a sunrise around 8:00 a.m. and sunset around 5:00 p.m. there just isn’t much day in the day.

So the other day, when the sun peaked out for a bit during the morning hours, I went traipsing about.
snowy path

I stopped just over the hill at the Seven Bridges Natural Area, where I was the first person to walk the snowy trails. There were some old footprints that had been covered in several inches of fresh snow, but that day it was just me and talkative river.
snowy bridge

Nature seems so desolate in November, void of color, but full of detritus. A girl can become downright depressed. In some ways, then, we’ve been blessed by the early heavy snows.
Snowy Rapid River blog
Snowy Bridge Smooth Water-blog

Winter will likely again feel too long this year, but the snow adds a cheerful touch for which I’m thankful.
snowy country barn

It decorates the remains of fall’s bounty, turning mundane sights into special, short-lived vignettes.
santa hats-3
Snowy Red Berries-blog

Yes, I am thankful for the snow, but I am also grateful for the past two days of rain that have melted most of it. It’s dreary as dreary out, but November is awfully early to be contemplating where to stack the snow from the driveway.
red at night

Out in the Cold

The sun flitted in and out of the clouds yesterday (mostly in), and though it was the coldest day of the season, I listened to my cabin-fever addled brain (it doesn’t take much folks; we went for a long walk on Sunday…) and headed out with the camera.

I had to burst through thick snow drifts at the bottom of the hill, but emerged safely onto a less snowy road, as the wind graciously blew snow in parallel.
Valley Road

A quick hop around a curve or two, and I parked at the Seven Bridges Natural Area – the same place I ventured back in November for some outside time. (A quick search for “Seven Bridges” on this blog indicates that I go here frequently when needing some outside time, but am pressed for time :) )
pinecones

Thanks to the infamous Polar Vortex, much of the Rapid River has frozen over, though where it’s exposed, the water alternately trickles and surges downstream.
Rapid River intimates-2
The sun mostly went back into hiding while I was there, but the ice formations held my attention captive. What it clings to in the swift current, I have no idea.

They’re not awe-inspiring or anything, but I think they’re worth a click for the detail in the larger versions

After the tips of my fingers shattered from the cold, I decided to get back in the car. I warmed up a bit and mended my fingers, which I would need for the big tree at the bottom of the snow-drifted road. (I’ll be checking the poll results sometime over the weekend.)

Since the sun showed a flicker of promise, I hopped back on the not-drifted road and headed for Torch Lake – curious whether it had frozen.
Cold bench with a hot view

For just a fleeting moment, the sun wrenched its way through a crack in the sky, and I put my tattered fingers to use once more. Though a wide ice shelf sits along the shore, the lake itself is still stirred by the wind, and thus not completely frozen. Because of the vast temperature differential a thick mist rose into cold, cold air – looking quite like a hot smoke in the sun’s firelight.

My fingers still hurt from playing in the cold with thin gloves the past two days, but I don’t regret for a second going out. Now that the cold spell has broken, I’ll be seeing the outside more, sun or not. How about you?

Making Excuses

This time of year always gets me. I am such an outdoors-loving spirit, and getting out takes special efforts after standard time kicks in. Speaking of which, can someone explain to me why we “save” daylight in the summer when there’s plenty of it, but don’t in the winter when we’re already lacking? (Okay, I’m really just looking for commiseration here, not a real explanation which I can easily Google.)

Thus, when the hourly forecast indicated a break in the rain this afternoon, I took advantage of the opportunity. Mind you, I wasn’t excited to go out – it’s brown and grey with just a splash of evergreen, and it was still misty and cold – but I figure the best way to beat the doldrums is to jump in.

What it feels like walking out of Daylight Saving Time ;)
November boardwalk

The roads are too squishy for a walk (Remember that I’m surrounded by packed sand roads?), so I grabbed my camera and decided to push myself to be creative. In this low-color day, I set my sights on a place that’s pretty regardless of sun or season: the Rapid River at the Seven Bridges Natural Area.

Tony and I walked around in the light drizzle, appreciative of the reprieve from the house (that I love, but I get cabin-fever easily) and for the serenity compliments of the rippling river.

Rapid River falls

With the muted colors and lighting, I looked for shapes. I liked the curve in the river as it approaches one of the many bridges. And since the scenery was already lacking saturation, I decided to play around with black and white.

Which version is your favorite? Really, I’d like to know if you’ll tell me in the comments!
Rapid River

desaturated Rapid River

Rapid River - BW

Eventually, as the water started soaking through my jeans in patches, we called it an afternoon and headed back home. It wasn’t a high-adventure trip, but it was a good excuse to get outside.

Restorative Moments

September is a take-it-easy time of year in northern Michigan. The entire area seems to sigh at summer’s end, relaxing its way directly into fall. I’m feeling this mood more this year than I have previously, and I’m grateful for the transition. The heat and intense activity of the summer is fun, but I’m truly an introvert, and eventually I need to retreat to quietude to recharge.

Today was hot enough that I again procrastinated on cutting the grass. The mercury indicated (digitally, because even if we had a thermometer outside, it would be an alcohol one, but I digress) that we crested 90. Not to worry, Mama Nature will begin acting her age (nine months, this year) later in the week, and then I can mow the yard. I did get my hair cut, though, so that’s something. Just over four inches – which seems like a lot, but it was nearly down to my navel, so it seemed like the prudent thing to do. Now I can procrastinate on getting my hair cut for the next eight months or so ;)

Finally, by around 7:30 some of the heat had bled from the atmosphere, thanks to a small cold front bearing thunderstorms. Tony and I squeezed in a brief walk before heading off to capture a few peaceful moments on the water. I’m not completely refreshed, but these quiet minutes add up. I’ll be good as new soon, ready to rejoin the regular world’s hustle and bustle.

Click to embiggen, if you wish. The top one is especially nice all grown up ;)
spotlight in the sky-small-2

storm over Torch-small

Let Me Explain

Spring is doing her typical thing – arriving fashionably overly late, then being coy and warm, and then cool and rainy, and then seasonably pleasant but crisp, and then snowing two inches in mid-May, and then blue skies and pleasant again.

That’s right, I said snow in May. And not just a flurry. Last Saturday, while we were attempting to track down our beloved, short-lived fungus, it snowed.two.inches. Since the weather behaved similarly poorly on Sunday, Tony and I opted to treat it like a Monday and took off work yesterday instead and enjoyed an entire sunny day of morel hunting. Continue reading