Spring thaw

_MG_2492.JPGThis has been a winter unlike any I’ve experienced — a cold blast in the minus 20s before wind chill, several feet of snow, weeks below freezing. And all of a sudden it’s gone.

I know we could still get a snowstorm in the next month or so, but it’s hard to look around at all of the dripping and gushing and not conclude winter has lost its grip. We’ve had some moderate flooding around the Cities, including near where I work, and catastrophic flooding to the south in Nebraska and elsewhere that’s directly affecting old friends of mine and their families.

We could get some of the same, but for now, things are just soaked. This past weekend I went down to Minnehaha Creek to see the back and forth between freezing and thawing. It was a good bookend to my visit back in December when the freezing was really taking over. Streams of snowmelt have carved channels and miniature canyons in the snow and ice, and the creek is gushing.

_MG_2434.JPG

_MG_2411.JPG

_MG_2499.JPG

_MG_2456.JPG

One of my favorite things with the thaw is watching water and bubbles flow under ice and take on a lava-lamp-like mode. I also found a kind of ice that’s new to my repertoire: etched with wiggling lines as if shattered but whole and smooth to the touch.

_MG_2468.JPG

_MG_2459.JPGI also went further along the creek than last time, all the way down to where it joins the Mississippi River. An orange bluff there seems to be made of the softest sandstone. People have carved names and designs all over it, of course, but I was more impressed with nature’s own contribution. The rock is covered in tree-like, branching tufts of sandstone powder that crumble to nothing at the slightest contact. Nature always one-ups us.

_MG_2475.JPG

_MG_2482.JPGHappy spring, everyone! I’m as glad as anyone to see it.

Dan

Atalanta

_MG_2253.JPGIn March we traded a Fayetteville apartment for a Rogers rental house, so I’ve been exploring. The house is within walking distance of a little artificial lake surrounded by miles of walking and biking trails called Lake Atalanta. I happen to have strolled down there once a month so far, so I’ve gotten to know the place all while one season gave way to another. These first few are from March.

_MG_2249.JPG

_MG_2297.JPGThen April:

_MG_2874.JPG

_MG_2878.JPG

_MG_2876.JPGFinally, from last weekend:

_MG_3408.JPG

_MG_3444.JPG

_MG_3469.JPG

_MG_3501.JPG

_MG_3484.JPGThe lake itself is nice, but my favorite part of the area is probably the trail connecting it to this house and the rest of downtown. Clear creeks gurgle along the way, and at one point there’s a stream on both sides. The woods are thick and lush. On Sunday I came across a couple members of Captain Burton’s Fun Time Sideshow Circus while they were visiting from Austin. And I heard a loud owl’s hoots as I walked back home. Not a bad move so far.

Winter’s last

_MG_2773.JPGSpring is here. It’s here. It’s here, no matter how many snowflakes fell Saturday morning and regardless of the fact that it’s forecast to fall below freezing yet again this week. The sun is higher in the sky, the waterfalls are flowing and the flowers are out, if they can endure the freezes. Fresh fern fronds are unfurling over last year’s worn-out models. But the forests around Devil’s Den State Park and the rest of this region are still largely bare for the moment — dogwoods and redbuds are busy, but oaks are slowpokes. It seems less like a seasonal transition than a seasonal battle.

_MG_2539.JPG

_MG_2548.JPG

_MG_2540.JPG

_MG_2704.JPG

_MG_2553.JPG

_MG_2777.JPG

_MG_2833.JPG

_MG_2852.JPGNo matter how many last-minute freezes nature throws in, soon spring will win out and the place will explode with green, and I’ll be there. Thanks for looking.

Dan

Mushrooming III

IMG_9511.JPGSome real warmth is finally here, and warmth plus rain means hidden networks of tiny fungus filaments in the forest floor are popping out mushrooms. I’ve already paid tribute to the variety and strange, sometimes slimy beauty of these little toadstools here and here, but still the Ozarks have new kinds to show me, including the above beauties at the entrance of a Devil’s Den State Park cave.

IMG_9465.JPG

IMG_9499.JPG

IMG_9502.JPG

IMG_9482.JPG

IMG_9512.JPGI hope you had a good Memorial Day weekend — thanks for stopping by.

Dan

IMG_9489.JPG