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You might not want to sit here.

 

 Hello reader!  First of all, these photos were taken yesterday.  I felt suddenly silently called to visit Lake Superior’s shore, filled with a desire to photograph ice-forming pictures.  Imagine my surprise to discover the ice extravaganza which coated benches, gates and poles.  

The Keweenaw Bay, December 2009

 

 Walking out the boardwalk-pier proved very very challenging.  It required tip-toeing.  The entire boardwalk lay coated with a covering of ice.  One did not want to walk too quickly, slip and enjoy a polar plunge in the bay.  I wondered which recent day furiously frosted this lake-side world with thick ice.  

Swirl of sand and snow

 

 Much of the beach looked clean-swept with only dustings of snow.  Stones and snow slumbered together, bedmates for the winter.   

The way ice forms along the edge of Lake Superior

 

 The ice is forming along the edges of the lake.  Many predict an early ice-fishing season.  (I actually witnessed a surveyor/architect fellow walking on river ice today.  What craziness!  Was he nuts?  River ice is so fragile, so delicate, so thin.  I wanted to leap from the car and photograph his insane behavior.  Yet, did not want to embarrass the fellow.  My own brand of quiet insanity, you think?) 

And the wind bent the icicles backwards

 

 Today’s outdoor adventure involved an insanity of its own.  Heading out into the woods without snowshoes.  (You see now how the river-walker and I have something in common…although it still seems his venture might be a little more dangerous.)  I followed the ridge behind the house, the snow almost cresting the top of the boots.  It was a work-out trudge.  Kind of like going to the gym.   

Up close ice

 

I emerged on the road awhile later, nicely sweating, after communing with a woodpecker.  I caught a photo of him in flight, which perhaps you shall see on Sunday.  He pecked away on a dead tree.  I begged him to come closer, closer, just a little closer, but he looked down his long beak at me and said, “You are close enough, madam” and flew away to the next dead tree stump.  

Four ice-enshrouded posts overlook bay

 

Our temperature turned so mild today and crested above the freezing mark.  The ice in downtown L’Anse will undoubtedly have melted today.  Perhaps folks can amble down the boardwalk toward Lake Superior without slipping. 

As we approach the darkest day of the year, let us remember to walk carefully if we live in northern climes.  Ice is silently forming, preparing to transform our Great Lakes.

 

Here comes Santa Claus! Took a fire truck down from the North Pole.

Hi Santa!  We’re so excited to see you around here!  Did you have a good ride down from the North Pole?  Did you ride in that fire truck all the way?  Did you put out any fires along the way?  

Snowy winter wonderland

Santa scurried inside the Arvon Town Hall to deliver gifts to eager children.  I stood around in sixteen layers of clothing (NOT Grandma’s 1970’s snowmobile suit.  We do NOT bring that out in public) waiting for the hayride.  We had to wait until Santa passed out all his goodies.  Yep.  The Fire Department puts on a bona fide hayride every year for all the kids, parents and outdoor bloggers who want to hop aboard.  It’s a wagon pulled by your standard four-wheel drive pickup truck.  Complete with hay bales for all of us hayride-participants to sit atop.  

The boyz on the hayride

Oh the kids were so cute!  Really adorable, every single one of them.  Some of them had blue lips from sucking on blue and white candy canes.  Not from the cold, mind you!  Maybe twenty of us piled on the wagon for the short ride down to the township park and back.  (I had been forewarned to wear lots of heavy clothing.  It looked like not everyone received the memo.  Without hats and gloves, it looked like some riders might have been a tad bit uncomfortable…) 

Sun illuminates evergreens

However, the weather was lovely today.  Truly lovely.  I can’t begin to share how 25 degrees seems like a heat wave after a freezing cold previous day where the temperature barely rose to 10 degrees and the wind whipped around trees with a potent fury.  Today felt balmy.  At least for those of us with snow pants, hooded sweatshirt, heavy coat, two pair of mittens, warm hat and toasty Sorel boots. 

Two cute little girls on the hayride

How many of you are thinking the beautiful snow-covered trees were spotted during our hayride?  Ha ha, fooled you big time!  The tree-photos were taken yesterday down a side road near our house.  I was leaning out the window of the car, snapping away.  The mailman followed in his car.  You could tell he couldn’t figure out what I was doing on this road.  I flagged him to drive past.  He kind of frowned as he went around.  It was a puzzlement.  What was I doing on this road?  (This is one of the joys of rural living!  Everyone knows who you are and wonders when you’re not doing something predictable.) 

Another gate in our white snow world

After the hayride, it was time to finish shoveling the deck.  I love shoveling very slowly.  When Barry shovels, it’s all done in one session.  When I shovel, it may be two or three days.  That’s because one must ENJOY one’s shoveling.  One must only shovel until it’s time to quit.  Which might be in five minutes or fifteen minutes.  Never a half hour. 

Snow-covered "Christmas" trees

Hope everyone  a) gets to see Santa coming down from the North Pole on a fire truck and b)  gets to see a little snow for Christmas.  That is, if one lives in a snow-prone area of the world.  Also hoping c) that you all get to go on a hayride this year.  Really!  And remember, if you can’t find a hayride pulled by a good old-fashioned horse, a pickup truck will do.

Snow on the apple trees

So which Christmas song would you use to describe today?  I’m voting for “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.  That is, if we even consider that song a Christmas song.  Seems like they have been putting it on Christmas CDs lately, so it probably applies, even though some might think it really doesn’t have much to do with the holidays…but it DOES have lots to do about the cold.

It seems to be freezing all around the United States.  I’ve heard complaints from New York City and Nebraska and Georgia and even California (although that western complaint came last week, so they’re probably back to mild and sunny already…)

Red apple balls on white trees

I didn’t didn’t didn’t want to go outside this afternoon.  And, once outside, didn’t didn’t didn’t want to stay outside.  It felt too cold at 10 degrees.  Even though I was dressed very warmly.  I counted the remaining days of the outdoor adventure on both hands.  After today, only nine more days to go.

Would you like a little snow with your apples?

Today’s outdoor adventure involved a) taking pics of apple trees, b) taking lots and lots of snow pics which you’ll have to see later, c) walking around L’Anse and photographing decorated Christmas trees (I know you’ll be holding your breath waiting to see those!), d) walking down and up the road for maybe ten minutes and e) shoveling more snow off the back deck.

Camera goes berserk! Oh NO!!

A slight emergency ensued during the snowy-tree photography session.  OH NO!  The edges of camera suddenly seemed to go…black…and I got quite confused.  What was happening?  The camera wouldn’t dare break now would it?  Please, Camera, I need you to work for ten more days, I begged.  Do not die now.  You’re too new to die.  What in the heck is wrong with you?

Fortunately, upon arrival home, with some closer inspection, I discovered that the shutter had somehow become stuck.  Ahhh… a simple matter to gently touch it and the shutter quietly closed its gaping mouth.  That was what created the black side walls of the photos.  Phew…  Now let’s just hope it was a random event and not a precursor of anything more serious.  (Barry’s assessment after reading this blog:  the camera was frozen!)

Look closely. What do you see in that ball of sunlight?

On the way to town, I saw something really cool.  Two really cool things.  Here is your “Where’s Waldo” question of the Day.  Or rather your “What’s Waldo” question.  Can you spot two interesting things in the above photo?  And what might they be?

Now, if you would like to listen to It’s Beginning to Look a LOT like Christmas with our dear Bing Crosby, here’s your link.  If you prefer Baby It’s Cold Outside with Willie Nelson and Norah Jones click here.  I guarantee you will sing this second song all day.  Once you’ve heard it, it never goes away…

Dentists recommend...playing hockey??

 

I can’t imagine dentists recommending that folks play hockey.  Only in the Copper Country of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would one glimpse a sign like this.  We laughed for two minutes before I made Barry turn the car around to photograph the sign.  And, I can guarantee you, turning around the car on a day like today proved no easy feat. (Ha ha, I am SO slow to get a joke.  Barry says dentists recommend playing hockey because players get their teeth knocked out and dentists have business.  Now I’m REALLY laughing!) 

Looking out the car window, Houghton, MI

 

We had to drive up to Houghton.  Barry had to interview someone, and he dropped me nicely at a coffee shop to sip cappuccino and play on my laptop computer, also known as Miss Ellie.  I wore sneakers up to Houghton, the first bad decision of the day.  The good decision involved throwing in a pair of Sorel boots in the back seat of the car.  After getting a good case of frozen sneaker-feet, I switched to the Sorels and clumped around during our later shopping expedition.  

Eleven very very very very cold degrees

 

The snow was still coming down in white sheets in the Copper Country.  Once you drive across the Houghton County line, you can expect the weather to worsen. It almost always does.  Usually within a mile or so of the county line sign.  People in the coffee shop moaned that the weather forecaster predicted up to ANOTHER two feet of snow up there in the next day or so.  Yikes!  We can always thank our lucky stars for living in the “banana belt” of Baraga County, especially in our locale near the Huron Bay.  After all, our storm abated after about fifteen inches of snow.   

Not very good roads today, but we're headed "south" toward L'Anse

 

I was glad Barry drove.  The roads were not stellar.  They combined ice, snow and slush into a mixture that kept us alert and cautious.  The white-out conditions in the Copper Country added to the fun.   

However, we did accomplish all our work and shopping.  After we turned around to drive home, passing by the county line, out came the sun!  Houghton County may still be getting lake effect snow, but we’re feeling like the tropics down here.  After all, our thermometer read 14 degrees!  Welcome winter!!  

The sun breaks through! We're back in Baraga County.

 

P.S.  Today’s outdoor adventure (besides running between stores) involved shoveling most of the deck.  A very good upper body workout.  I wonder if four out of five dentists would recommend shoveling?  Hmmm….

The Silver River freezes

 

I’ve been fascinated by the patterns of the freezing rivers lately.  The rivers have been donning their winter garb of ice and snow, settling in for the long freezing days and nights. 

The Silver River with long shadows on the other side of the bridge

 

Yesterday I photographed the Silver River as it passed under Townline Road, but today drove a little distance up Skanee Road to wander along the river through the woods.  How it meanders!  How the river dances around this bend and those rapids, never stopping, always moving.  Until ice renders it deceptively silent and still.  Don’t walk on it yet!  In fact, I have never walked on river ice.  The currents still run beneath the silent frozen surface.

Years ago I dreamed of falling through the ice on the Silver River, sucked down beneath the hard glass surface, unable to find a way to the hole, unable to find a way back up.  It was not a happy dream.

Slurry of brown water, white snow and ice

 

In some places the river looks muddy and brown.  If you walk around the curve, it suddenly struts its beauty in stark white.  Fascinating patterns swirl everywhere.  Rivers of ice exist within rivers of sparkling water.  

Magical swirls, magical rivers of ice

 

The camera uploaded more than fifty photos by the time it finished shooting the patterns and swirls.  It seemed impossible to pick eight photos to show you.  Each one looks so unique, so different.  In the end, I just closed my eyes and picked.  (Well, not really!  But you get the idea…) 

An angel of ice

 

We are surrounded by such beauty that we do not notice.  I have never before thought of wandering by the riverside documenting the freezing of river ice.  Why don’t we think to do such things?  

Patterned curves as the ice forms

 

There are rumors that a big snow storm is headed for the Upper Peninsula.  Maybe tomorrow?  Maybe the next day?  Some areas may get ten to fifteen inches.  Baraga County is part of that warning.  You can read about it here if you like.  Sigh…winter seems to be starting awfully early this year. 

Oh beautiful river!

 

It’s lovely to sit inside when the snow falls.  You feel so cozy and peaceful and snug.  It’s even fun to put on your warm winter clothes and go outside.  What is challenging is when loved ones (or one’s self) need to be on the road.  Driving in a snowstorm is no fun.  The snow loses its appeal very rapidly. 

How ice forms when you're looking up close

 

Back to our discussion of freezing rivers.  It’s interesting to get right up close to the edge of the ice.  Not too close!  You don’t want to fall in.  But close enough to linger at the edge of something brand new.  Something beautiful.  Something we’re going to get to know very intimately during the next four or five months…

Catherine's little sauna

First things first.  How many of you know how to properly pronounce the word “sauna”?  Show of hands!  Looks like a lot of you think you know how, but some of you are unsure.  Let’s practice for a moment.  I hear some of you saying “saw-na”.  No, that is not the way the true Finnish folk in this area pronounce the word.  Let’s try again.  “Sow-na.”  Yes!  Now you’ve got it!

 I was fortunate enough to be invited to a sauna today at my friend Catherine’s house.  Yes, indeed.  It was time to sweat.  Time for a little steam and purification.  Before she crumpled up the newspaper, placed the kindling inside the stove and struck the match, I was fortunate enough to meet her friend, John.  Luckily, they agreed to pose for a photograph for the little Sony Cybershot.

Catherine and John

We said goodbye to John and got serious about our sauna preparations.  (Well, mostly Catherine got serious about our sauna preparations.  I stood around and looked helpful.)  Soon she had a roaring fire going in the tiny sauna stove. 

Loading the sauna stove

While the fire is heating up, let’s talk about some sauna facts. Here is what our good friend Wikipedia has to say about the first saunas:   The oldest known saunas were pits dug in a slope in the ground and primarily used as dwellings in winter. The sauna featured a fireplace where stones were heated to a high temperature. Water was thrown over the hot stones to produce steam and to give a sensation of increased heat. This would raise the apparent temperature so high that people could take off their clothes.

The first Finnish saunas are what nowadays are called savusaunas, or smoke saunas. These differed from present-day saunas in that they were heated by heating a pile of rocks called kiuas by burning large amounts of wood about 6 to 8 hours, and then letting the smoke out before enjoying the löyly, or sauna heat. A properly heated “savusauna” gives heat up to 12 hours. These are still used in present-day Finland by some enthusiasts, but usually only on special occasions such as Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, and juhannus (Midsummer’s Day).

 

Stained glass window in sauna

There will be a quiz at the end, so study hard.  I suppose many of you astute readers will notice the phrase “This would raise the apparent temperature so high that people could take off their clothes.”  So you astute readers are wondering what people wear when they take a sauna together?  My acute observations over the years point to three possibilities: A)  towels B) bathing suits or C) nothing.  It seems to depend on the group with whom you’re choosing to sauna, your modesty and the sex of your fellow sweaters.  Catherine and I chose the first two options. 

Protector of the Sauna

 We enjoyed a rather mild sauna today. Catherine did not even pour icy cold water over the hot rocks resulting in a potent steam bath.  No.  We sat on the top bench and chatted and yes, eventually sweated.  It has been almost FOUR months since we last saw one another in the raspberry patch.  How could so much time pass?  It is amazing that we can be so busy that we don’t take time to visit our closest friends.  

After the sauna...a beautiful sunset

 We also took a short hike down to the beaver pond before our sauna and was it COLD!  Only eighteen freezing degrees.  I was thoroughly icy-frozen for the first time since last winter.  It didn’t help that I had forgotten my warm boots and had to borrow John’s too-big sized boots, even though they were stuffed with nice warm socks.  Tomorrow I will how you some photos of the snow-covered pond and other exciting winter photos. 

After the sauna we lingered over dinner (until I abruptly announced it was time to go home and write the blog) slowly savouring delicious oven-roasted root vegetables over quinoa.  Oh Heaven!  Food and sauna and outdoor adventures are so wondermous when shared with friends.

P.S.  I have decided to forgo the quiz. I’m sure you all memorized all the facts anyway.  Instead I will paste in some more sauna history for those of you who are interested.  The rest of you can go about your day plotting about when you can enjoy your next sauna. 

As a result of the industrial revolution, the sauna evolved to use a metal woodstove, or kiuas [ˈkiu.ɑs], with a chimney. Air temperatures averaged around 70–80 degrees Celsius (160–180 degrees Fahrenheit) but sometimes exceeded 90 °C (200 °F) in a traditional Finnish sauna. Steam vapor, also called löyly [ˈløyly], was created by splashing water on the heated rocks. 

The steam and high heat caused bathers to perspire. The Finns also used a vihta [ˈvihtɑ] (Western dialect, or vasta [ˈvɑstɑ] in Eastern dialect), which is a bundle of birch twigs with fresh leaves, to gently slap the skin and create further stimulation of the pores and cells. 

The Finns also used the sauna as a place to cleanse the mind, rejuvenate and refresh the spirit, and prepare the dead for burial. The sauna was (and still is) an important part of daily life, and families bathed together in the home sauna. Because the sauna was often the cleanest structure and had water readily available, Finnish women also gave birth in the sauna. 

Although the culture of sauna nowadays is more or less related to Finnish culture, it’s important to note that the evolution of sauna has happened around the same time both in Finland and the Baltic countries sharing the same meaning and importance of sauna in daily life. The same sauna culture is shared in both places still to this day. 

When the Finns migrated to other areas of the globe they brought their sauna designs and traditions with them, introducing other cultures to the enjoyment and health benefits of sauna. This led to further evolution of the sauna, including the electric sauna stove, which was introduced in the 1950s and far infrared saunas, which have become popular in the last several decades. 

In Tibetan, there is a word Shokhang,wich means Sauna.

So the airplane lands and you drive almost two hours home.  You’re tired.  You sing to yourself to stay awake. You put the radio on…loud.  You roll down the window.  You put toothpicks in your eyelids to keep your eyes open.  (Well, maybe not that extreme…)

You pull in the driveway about 11:15 p.m.  You hug your husband, exchange a few stories and drop dead-asleep into a nice warm cozy bed.

At 6:30 in the blessed a.m. he says, “Time to get up!” and you open one eye.  In California it’s 3:30 a.m.  But then you suppose this means that on California time you went to bed at 8:30 p.m. so you get up without too much fuss.  You drink coffee.  You prepare to go to work, thanking all the stars in the Universe that you don’t have to leave immediately.

You look outside.  It’s beautiful.  The world has been painted frost-white overnight.  You put on your warm winter coat wondering how this happened…yesterday morning in San Diego it was in the 50’s.  Now it’s way below freezing.  You feel your Upper Peninsula stamina returning.

Frost on car, frost on driveway, frost in garden

You breathe the fresh morning frosty air.  You admire that the garden has been rototilled in your absence.  Now it is ready for spring planting, after the next six months of snow and ice and freezing cold.

Up close frost on grass

You wander around in the dawn, half-asleep.  You wonder at how quickly worlds can change.  Yesterday you were someplace else.  Another landscape informed your life.  Today you are awake in another place on the great earth.  Are we the same people we were yesterday?  Will we be the same person tomorrow?  Take another sip of coffee and ponder that.

Great shadows drape themselves on the frosty earth

Frost on leaf

You’re starting to wake up because it’s so cold.  You’re starting to think about all the work you need to do, both at home and work.  Traveling is a delight, but then there is that catching-up time.  You have so much to do.  But you won’t think about any of it, not yet.  You’ll just let the camera look around at the frost for five more minutes.

Frost, shadows, sunlight

Finally you drive to work.  You are not thinking about hunting season.  Not thinking about the many hunters seeking deer in the woods.  Not thinking at all.  You are driving along, when suddenly, there is A Sign.  You can’t believe it!  Look at that sign!

Berri (Berry?) Pickers go home??

First thought:  How terrible.  How awful.  All the berry pickers (meaning people from not around here) are going to have hurt feelings.

Second thought:  Hey, am I still a berry picker?  (only been here 30 years, you never know.)

Third thought: Wonder what kind of pain a person would be in to make that kind of sign?

Fourth, fifth, sixth thoughts, etc:  Maybe it’s a joke.  Maybe “BerriPicker” is the name of a person and it’s a big joke  Maybe a drunk kid did this.  Maybe some “Berry Picker” was acting stupid in a local bar and looking down at folks.

Maybe, maybe, maybe.

The mind can really tell a lot of stories.  You could tell 1,000,000 stories about why the person wrote the sign.  You could make it a good story, a bad story, a tragic story, a funny story, anything.  You could make it have a good ending or bad ending.  It could be just about anything.  I think the sign maker and the outsider ended up having a beer at the local tavern.  Six months later the sign maker moved away to live someplace else and learned what it was to be an outsider.  The berry picker moved here.  Everyone lived happily ever after.

How’s that for my story tonight?  Can any of us ever know the truth?  Anyone have any stories of your own?

Pine frost

Pine frost

When you tiptoe outside in the early October dawn, with sunrise temperatures below freezing, frost meets your sleepy eyes.

Frost thick on car windshields.  Frost atop the remaining garden carrots and kale and beets.  Frost ice-searing the edges of autumn leaves.

Leaf frost

Leaf frost

You shiver in your winter coat, burrowing deeper into mittens and beneath knitted hat.  Your breath spirals in smoke-vapor trails.  The frost crunches thick beneath your sneakers or boots.  As you walk among the plants, it melts oh-so-quickly and your jeans get soaked in two minutes.  You don’t mind, wandering in a world of crisp-white beauty.

Fields of frost

Fields of frost

It’s not light enough to truly take pictures until after 9 a.m.  Yes, the sun rises earlier.  But, no, the light refuses to illuminate until the magic hour.  You must capture frost at its dawn zenith.  Not too soon, not too late.  Timing is everything.  Just like in our human lives.

Fern frost

Fern frost

Frost is the harbinger of snow around here.  Frost speaks a language that the squirrels and deer and birds and mice understand.  They scramble to finish preparations.  They know their fattening-up days are limited.  The wolves bay at the moon, talking to frost gods.  The owls hoot, exchanging wisdom.  The humans stoke their fires and linger inside.  They remember ice in the marrow of their bones.  But it does no good to push it yonder.  Winter comes.

Lacy green feather-frost

Lacy green feather-frost

It’s almost time to trek home to that warm kitchen.  Breakfast simmers on the stove:  hearty grains, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, almonds, coconut, blueberries.  What a delight to wander home after the frost-walk!  Cheeks rosy and yet body warm after the hike, you open the door and return inside.  A chickadee chirps its sweet winter call from near the garden, requesting sunflower seeds. 

“Not yet,” you say.  “We’ll put up the feeder soon, when the garden is empty.”

The chickadee flutters to the spruce tree.  Another good day. And it’s not even 10 a.m.

Frost on yellow leaves

Frost on yellow leaves

Exhibit A.  What's left of the garden.

Exhibit A. What's left of the garden.

I warned you, didn’t I?  Said that if you didn’t pick those brussels sprouts when the temperature baked in the 60’s and 70’s…you would be sorry.  So very sorry.

And did you listen?  Did you harvest?  Or did you think “Oh, the weather is sure to be nice and warm for at least a few days in October” and happily wander around in the woods without a second thought for the garden?  Did you think that maybe, oh just maybe, those teeny tiny brussels would grow into full-sized globules like you buy in the grocery store? 

Well today you have to fact the facts.  It’s 37 degrees and freezing every night.  Time to get out there and pull up the root-bound heavy plants and see what marbles you can rescue from the stalks.  After all, the marbles taste good.  Especially when you think of some sauce or vinaigrette to marinate them in. 

Get on out in the garden.  Don’t think about the temperature.  Remember to layer.  And remember to put on some kind of gloves this year.  Or your fingers will freeze solid during this task.

The brussels awaiting harvest

Exhibit B. The brussels awaiting harvest.

Unfortunately, you may not be able to find a pair of work gloves.  You look EVERYWHERE.  In this closet and that closet.  They’re AWOL.  So you finally settle upon a black yarn pair of gloves (half-way decent) thinking you’ll wash them in mild detergent later. 

And out you go to pull the plants and toss the leaves into the woods for deer lunches.

Admiring the brussels marbles, up close

Admiring the brussels marbles, up close

No complaining about those icy cold fingers!  Not a WORD.  You have gloves on, after all.  Be a strong woman.  Take a deep breath.  Keep plucking.  We’re not going to say, “I told you so!”

Some of us have a problem with the words:  Brussels sprout.  In common English we call ’em:  Brussel sprouts.  We’ve called them brussel sprouts all our life.  But then you discover that’s incorrect.  They are Brussels.  So you try very hard to call them by their proper name, by the name they want to be called.  You know how you call somebody “Tommy” all his life and suddenly you have to remember “Tom”.  And how hard you struggle to not say, “Tommy, how you doing?”  It’s the same with brussels sprout.

Deer food.  All those brussels leaves for the hungry deer.

Deer food. All those brussels leaves for the hungry deer.

So you strip all the leaves off the tough stalk and throw them diligently into the woods under the oak tree.  You rub your icy fingers together to create heat-friction. You know the hungry deer will stop by eventually and munch the scraps, hopefully putting on a bit of fat for the long winter.  We try to keep the deer in their Proper Areas.  We feed them under the oak tree but if they dare attempt to scale our electric fence and eat our garden produce:  watch out!  We won’t be so kind if they eat all our vegetables.  No.  They’ll be zapped up into the heavens.  They know where to place their hooves.  And it’s not in the garden.

Brussels "art"

Brussels "art"

Because you know how very very icy your fingers will become cutting off the marbles from the stalk, you come up with an idea this year.  In fact, come to think about it, maybe one of your blog readers suggested this.  You bring the stalks into the warm cozy basement.  You will cut off the brussels from the comfort of your rug, dozing by the wood stove.  Yes!  It’s a plan!  If you ever get motivated, you will do this.

There they are downstairs in the basement.  Waiting.  And they're still waiting.

There they are downstairs in the basement. Waiting. And they're still waiting.

After you bring the brussels inside you happen to glance down at yourself.  Oh my, what a mess!  Mud everywhere.  On the shoes, on the jeans, on the socks.  What a muddy venture.  You decide to return to the garden to pull some carrots, just to be Truly Productive.  And you determine to take a picture of the mud-spattered formerly nice-looking knit gloves.  Except the camera suddenly refuses to open and close.  You hope it’s a battery problem.  You truly hope it is.  In the meantime…time to change clothes!  And you really should get downstairs and finish those brussels sprouts.

Messy muddy harvester

Messy muddy harvester

Autumn leaf on snow

Autumn leaf on snow

Yes, yes, yes.

We woke up to snow on the ground.  At least two inches of the white stuff on the cars and the deck.  Maybe one inch on the warmer earth.  We stared mesmerized at the beauty.  And caught our breaths as we walked outside into the freezing cold.  It’s Autumn in the U.P. of Michigan.  Snow can spread her white beauty on us any time it desires.

And it desired this weekend.

Snowman near Houghton

Snowman near Houghton

Remember how I blithely told you yesterday that the snow never stays on the ground in mid-October?  How it melts away so quickly? 

Mother Nature made me a liar within three hours after writing that sentence.  My visiting Mom and Dad, Barry and I headed up to Houghton to meet my nephew Doug and his roommate Gabe for dinner at the North Shore Grille.  We barely passed into Houghton County before we began to witness Snow on Cars.  Then Snow on Lawns.  Then snow–Everywhere.

When we spotted the above snowman, I begged Barry to turn the car around for a photo.  He is so used to this request these days!  He easily turned the vehicle around.  He, however, wanted me to walk up into the front lawn of the snowman-builder and take a picture with a red-leafed tree in the background.  I was too chicken.  I stood closer to the road, ready to make a get-away in case anyone came out of the house.

Instead, you can see another red-leafed tree surrounded by snow.  This is the scene to which we awoke this morning.

A dash of color in the snow

A dash of color in the snow

After we shared our morning coffee, I headed downstairs to dig out Grandma’s old blue snowmobile suit from the 1970’s from the closet.  Time for the snowmobile suit!  I pulled it over my pajamas, grabbed a pair of winter boots, hats and mittens and dashed outside for snow photos.  (It’s truly amazing how beautiful the first snow of the season looks.  Compared with the thirtieth snow of the season when all you want to do is buy a ticket for southern Florida.)

View from the deck just before searching for the snowmobile suit

View from the deck just before searching for the snowmobile suit

Oh how exhilarating it is to romp in the snow just after dawn!  (And later in the day Mom and I walked up the road for a good half hour…but by then every last flake of snow had melted and disappeared.)

Snow and grass

Snow and grass

It’s funny how quickly it melts.  One minute there is a white frosted snow-laced world.  The snow hangs heavy on the red and orange and yellow and green leaves.  Some trees lean over like hunched-back men, straining under the weight.  The white snow cleans and scours everything.  You breathe out a cloud of breath-smoke.  Your boots squish in the water-laden snow.

By noon, it’s all gone.  It’s a memory.  The cold north wind still blows frigid, but you’re suddenly back in autumn.  Thank goodness!  Stay away for another month, Winter, at least.  Please stay away.  We beg you.

Red-orange leaves heavy in the snow

Red-orange leaves heavy in the snow

I just asked my mom if she wanted Grandma’s snowmobile suit back.  I mean, maybe she was the one who gave me this precious object.  Maybe SHE wants to wear it downstate in HER backyard when it snows.  But she just stared at me dumbfounded with her eyebrows raised.  Guess she doesn’t want it back.  Maybe she thinks the neighbors would stare.  Guess I better keep it here in the woods…

And it all melts away...for now...

And it all melts away...for now...

Barry just said, “I think we need a picture of you in the snowmobile suit!”  I said, “TOO LATE!!!”

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