Washington County’s Lake Elmo is a clear deep lake and one of the last to freeze locally. The southern half has frozen but the rest is wide open. Ducks and swans were paddling the north side today perhaps sensing the warm forecast for later in the week.
As new snow accumulates the local critters expend less energy using the plowed neighborhood trails. In this short segment of loop through the woods I recognized deer, rabbit, squirrel, field mouse, pheasant, song bird (probably a Junco) and of course fox sign as s/he worked the trail to see which of the above might be available for dinner!
This time of year we get a wider look at the sky bringing colorful cloud formations into full view against the white of winter.
With white and brown the dominant winter colors our eyes seek out other hues in the landscape like these fading birch or a red barn poised on a hill amongst a grove of green pine.
Once snow covers the spruce boughs it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit. Yet even though there’s been several nights below freezing the ponds and lakes are not yet safe. Check out the Minnesota DNR’s chart below for a quick ice safety reminder.
A good portion of the nation was thrust into a December like freeze Monday. Snowfall amounts were paltry here compared to the 12″ or more upstate and into northern Wisconsin. I spotted this tail first landing on a trail shortly before flushing a male pheasant up into a gusty north wind.
The sight, sounds and smell of a small fire in the wood stove is an inviting treat this time of year as the wind cuts to the bone leaving us with a runny nose, foggy glasses and very rosy cheeks!
The colors of fall lay quietly in the cold water and in the grasses that line the shore. Shallow ponds cool quickly even freezing at the edges. And migrating waterfowl rest in the bigger, warmer ponds and lakes hopscotching their way south some as far as Central and South America.