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

A Lot Can Change in a Week

Last week winter toyed with us. Snow poured down during the morning, and melted in the afternoon. Maybe it wasn’t settled in, but-ready-or-not, here it comes.

I dread November, not because it brings winter around here, but because the days are so short, and so drab. Last Tuesday, I grabbed my camera with a determination to find something in a rainy November day worth appreciating. I headed to the lake around sunset, aiming for a moody shot of the dark clouds hanging heavily over the western shores. I came away with this instead.

Torch Lake rain drops

One rainy photo, that I ended up loving even though it was rubbing my nose in the whole November rain thing.

Three days later, and winter returned broadcasting “I’m here!” With lake effect snow events, at least there’s a chance of something interesting going on. The snow often blows down off the lake in narrow bands, giving us sun-deprived northerners a chance to make some Vitamin D. And take dramatic pictures.

We’ve had nothing but snow, snow, and more snow since. I officially broke out the winter boots and snow pants for my morning walks with Petey. That stuff’s really piling up!

Sunset last night, and shots of our road this morning when I was out with the Petey Dog.

We were expecting around a foot and a half through this evening, but I think we ended up with about a third of that. Plenty to shovel, but not enough to have merited changing a couple of appointments. :-/

Lake effect snow still falls north of Alden tonight. I took the above raindrop photo about a quarter-mile north of that bench just one week ago. There was no ice then. Sheesh.

And that’s life Up North right now. Cold, snowy, and hopefully on our way to a great ski season.

If this post made you chilly, here are a couple of snuggle pups to warm you back up. These two girls are among Petey’s best buds, and were both rescues too. Second chances, FTW :)

Spring Is on the Way

spring barn

Spring is on the way.

fresh snow-08

We can’t see the grass anywhere, and the snowdrifts are still up to my collar bones, but spring is on the way.

It may still look and feel just like winter, but I can tell. I know all the signs.

These sweet girls visited us on their Spring Break, and we did all kinds of spring things, like sledding, snowy hiking, and ice caving.

Also, we just celebrated the transition to Daylight Saving Time, colloquially called “Spring Forward,” so it must be almost spring.

And it’s the middle of March, which is when spring arrives. So it’s definitely on its way.

The pavement pieces that tile our road were clear for two days, so spring is sure to arrive soon.

Why just today we went skiing and then hiking through snowpack – two quintessential springtime activities.


The lakes are still frozen solid, and the winds bring frostbite in moments.

moonrise

But there’s light in the sky until 9:00pm.

post sunset

And it did rain the other day. So yes, spring really is on its way. It’s just that it could be winter again by time it arrives.

A note about my sanity: I’m not really that upset about this winter. It’s been beautiful, as you can see from this slew of photos, mostly taken during this morning’s sunrise over the fresh snow. It’s surely been a long, cold winter, but it hasn’t been without its rewards. We’ll enjoy whatever weather comes our way, and will savor the springtime even more when it does arrive. In July. ;)

Also, many thanks to my Crazy (formerly) Goan Friend for the nudge to write again :)

Adventure and Routine – A Restorative Weekend

I meant to write this last night, but since I was feeling so mellow from the weekend, it didn’t happen. We didn’t have the kind of weekend where you stay in and bury yourselves in books, but we also didn’t have the kind of weekend where you explore 15 new places. Instead, we did a little exploring, a little winter routine, and none of it on a schedule. By the time Sunday evening arrived, I was feeling refreshed and ready for Monday (or “today” if you’re on this side of the world).

Saturday afternoon we roused ourselves for a hike. We settled on Pyramid Point, because it has a nice view, and we hadn’t been since July. The road situation is a bit different in the area this time of year. Last time I drove my sister’s little front-wheel drive car down a two-track with no problem (well, except that we had to take said two-track because I briefly got us lost). The other day, I could only spot the road because the top foot or so of the road-marker pokes out of piled and drifted snow.

We parked at the bottom of the road the trail is on, and hiked up to the trailhead…to begin our hike. I knelt in the snow for a close-up of some dried Queen Anne’s Lace, convinced it was the only decent shot I’d get for the day thanks to dense cloud cover and intermittent swirling snow.

After the short climb, we reached the Lake Michigan overlook, and though the view isn’t what I’ve come to expect, it was spectacular in its way.

Guess which one was from July – even though it was 57 and raining that day :(


Fine snow poured through our duration at the top (admittedly brief) so that we never did glimpse the horizon. What you can see in the left image is a break in the ice, which now coats nearly 50% of the lake’s surface.

Back in the warm confines of our car, I noted that sunset is now happening at nearly 6:00, and that we had time for some beach exploration if Tony and Petey were game. They were.

Considering the impending sunset, we knew our time on the ice would be short. Since it’s such a novel world though, every find is unique and exciting, making even a quick trip worth the effort. With the shore in this condition, I feel like I’m visiting a polar region. Icebergs sit perched and cracked on top of yet more ice, some of which you can see Lake Michigan’s teal through, and some of which expands out in little white pancakes toward the horizon.


Ice caves yawn at the west toward previously incoming waves, their savage maws nonetheless inviting you in. I answer their call. Eventually, the sky darkens enough that we call it a night before someone breaks an ankle (again).

Yesterday (I’m sure because we had gone adventuring on a cloudy day) dawned bright and blue, so we geared up for a morning of skiing. Though fiercely cold, the groomed trails were a blast, and I hope it stays just a touch warmer so we can get out more often. After a late lunch at the best brew-pub in existence, we returned home for a little snow shoveling followed by an afternoon walk. Most of our route was beautiful and sedate, with the exception of the biting winds when we faced west.

Oh yes, we also saw a veritable herd of turkeys…nearly four dozen!


And though only a few crepuscular rays shone through in the west as the sun set, the east held a lovely pink tinge, a gentle ending for a gentle weekend.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Because it’s the weekend and we can, Tony (and Petey) and I decided we’d go for another beach-combing adventure this afternoon. Sure, the skies were grey and it was cold – single digits again plus wind – but we could still have fun.

Knowing we’d be traipsing through snow and on the coast exposed to unmitigated gusts, we dressed in our ski clothes. We laughed along the way at the height of the snow drifts. We noticed one mailbox completely encrusted in snow; it had literally been dug out of a drift, with at least four feet piled above it. And at least one place had drifts that were a couple feet higher than the roof of the car.

Driving conditions that typified the afternoon. These are relatively low drifts…
driving

It was all silly “Hahaha, isn’t life Up North funny sometimes?” until we got to the beach. And couldn’t see the horizon at all because the snow had so intensified.

Icebergs and icy pilings in Glen Haven – contrast exaggerated so you can see the horizon

If there were a decent trail, we might have stayed to explore, but with such a downpour Petey kept shaking to clear his head, and the photos are all littered with white blurs. While we were out, though, Petey had a good time chasing balls of ice. He’d have stayed gnawing on his catch, but we knew it was time to go when his hind legs began shivering.


Ah well. You win some, you lose some. We had a few good days earlier in the week (I’ll share photos and details at some point!), and we’re all still healthy and happy (relatively – Dominique is having a dental issue…), so for now, Life is Good :)