My friend Uta has invited me countless times to the cabin she and her husband bought three years ago in northern Minnesota, near Lake Superior. Her persistence finally paid off last weekend when we sandwiched a visit between winter storms and work obligations.
Yes, you read that right: winter storms.
The North Shore is famous for its changeable “lake effect” weather — and for even longer, harsher winters than we endure in the Twin Cities. Still, neither of us had expected to look out the window and see this on Friday morning:
I bundled up (because I had packed poorly in my haste to leave town) and headed out for a stroll … but stopped on the front steps. Even the utility shed was beautiful under its white blanket.
Farther down the gravel road, the trees and leaves were frozen in their fall glory.
But apart from the tiny footprints of a bird (probably a dark-eyed junco, on its way south) I didn’t see or hear any wildlife.
The only sound, in fact, was the soft murmur of the Baptism River’s rapids. No cars, no airplanes, no lawnmowers or snowblowers. Bliss.
See the copper color of the water?
Someone once told me it was from the soil’s high iron content (this is in the Iron Range, after all). But Uta thought it was due to tannins from all the leaves. Whatever the case, the brownish-tan color even leached through the tire tracks on the road.
It was still snowing, so it didn’t take long for my fingers to become red and numb. I was relieved to spot the garage as I walked back up the steep road.
In the back yard, the lawn furniture and barbecue looked as frozen as I felt. I was grateful to have a cabin to retreat into, instead of just a tent.
By the time Uta and I finished breakfast, the snow had turned to rain — and my hopes of seeing any fall color were fading by the hour.
But remember what I said about the changeable weather? In 24 hours, the landscape would change again. I’ll leave you with this photo as a little hint.
Our North Shore adventure will continue in a few days.