Yesterday our ice went out. A strong easterly wind of 20 to 30 MPH pounded the ice into our shore, grinding the pack into tiny cubes that melted quickly. The lake ice gave up the ghost without much effort this year, perhaps due to the heavy snow loads on the new ice last December. Heavy snow falls early last winter created a lot of deep slush which then eventually froze into a rather “punky” ice. This thick blanket of snow so effectively insulated the ice that, in spite of the record cold temps, we saw signs that the deer were pawing down to the slush for a drink throughout the winter. The end of April is typically when the ice goes out, so it looks like we are on track for a “normal” spring, whatever that might be?!
We are looking for a silver lining in our late spring snow yesterday. That bright spot might come in the form of nitrogen. We have heard that a late spring snow-fall was referred to a poor man’s fertilizer. A quick internet search turned up plenty of evidence that this is in fact the case. So, right now our gardens and lawn are getting a bit of a head start to the growing season.
It looks like Mabel is ready for summer. Our recent warm weather inspired this classic shot. Other recent quotable quotes from our guests: a recent text from one of our kid’s resort friends, “we are coming to HMT in 52 days, 6 hours, and 14 minutes. We are just that excited!” And this from a 5 year old grandson, overhearing an adult conversation about Half Moon Trail and evidently feeling flush with some recent Easter $: “This year we have to stay 3 days …. And I’ll pay for it …. 3 cents for 3 nights.” Thanks Liz for this great photo!
Park Rapids is home to a winter flock of trumpeter swans. These birds are huge, standing 4 foot tall with wing spans of 8 feet. The river flowing out of Fish Hook Lake is usually ice free, and these birds seem quite content to hang out all winter. A few people bring shelled corn, which I assume helps augment their limited food supply this time of year. I stopped by last week to see how many where still here. The first stop was a nice day and all the swans evidently were out feeding in the now open fields and other recently opened rivers. I stopped again a few days later; the weather had turned cold again, with more snow, and this time there were a couple dozen swans in the river. Here are a couple quick shots of our winter flock of swans.
“We have a birth announcement this morning…..” Mary answered our curious looks with the fact that her lobelia seeds had just germinated. So, in spite of our most recent attack of winter, the first step of our summer flowers has begun. Mary used to start thousands of plants in our furnace room under florescent lights, truly a humble beginning. But, for various reasons, she now starts only a few types. Some she can’t find locally and others like the lobelia, she just has better luck with her healthier, self-started stock. She also starts several hanging pots of bridal veil from the cuttings of last year’s plants. Five of these will hang in the court yard entrance to the lodge, adding understated, but important color and texture.
Whenever I see this I am amazed that snow can be elastic. Sometimes its elasticity is amazing. The woods are beautiful right now, but cold. Snowshoes are a must as snow depth is over the knees in most places.
We found these tracks in the snow on a recent snowshoe hike in the woods with my brother. Any guesses on what happened here? ….. I am quite sure these are grouse tracks, as we often flush these birds out of this area. What I am not sure about is whether the grouse was taking off or landing. Note the two wing beats and the one foot that touched down between the feather “tracks”. The deep pocket would lead me to guess the bird was landing. What do you think?
My sister’s family from Norway spent Christmas week here in Park Rapids. My two nephews are amazing athletes and love to push the limits, especially when Nate is here to add to their craziness. After using the bobcat to build a rather large ramp, Ryan, using the truck and a ski rope, pulled them down the driveway launching them up and over the ramp. The above photo shows Ole Christian doing a back flip which he landed. Below it looks like Nate is doing a flip too, but when I commented on the photo he said the steep ramp just shot him straight up and he landed “pretty-much” the way he looks in the photo…spread-eagle on his back. They had a lot of fun and everyone is still in one piece! Many thanks to Thomas for these great photos. Getting these photos in focus and stopping the action at night with limited lighting shows that you know what you are doing with a camera!