Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter Wonderland

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

If you live in the Midwest and were lucky enough to be at home this past Wednesday, you were probably inside (at least when you weren’t shoveling or snow-blowing), watching the snow pile up outside. Me, I had to work. The drive home around 2:30 PM was the best part of the day. There was little traffic on the roads and the sun was beginning to peek through the clouds. As I passed through the wooded area near home, the trees were loaded with snow making it look like a Christmas card winter wonderland.

Whenever we receive a big snow like this, our thoughts turn to winter photography. We would be perfectly content if we got a lot of snow in December and the snow stayed on the ground until March with a few small snows every now and then to keep it looking fresh and white. Whenever the roads are clear enough, we try to get out on the weekend to capture Wisconsin in its blanket of white. It’s a welcome sight after the brown of November.

Two years ago, we had a very snowy winter and we went out photographing almost every weekend throughout the entire winter. We didn’t stray too far from home most days, and often we only went out for the morning, but it was a glorious winter for photography. Joann was taking a break from her corporate job that winter, so on one of those snowy winter wonderland days, she headed out to catch the snow clinging to the trees.

I had to work, but I reminded her of a wagon I had seen set against some pine trees between her house and mine. I thought it might make a good snow picture. She went out photographing in the country near her house, and then decided to see what the wagon looked like. She called me at work to double check where the wagon was.

I thought I had given good directions for where the wagon was located, and I thought that she had understood what I had explained. I’m sure you’ve had those kinds of conversations. I was surprised a little later when my phone rang again and it was Joann. And the conversation went something like this:

Joann: “I’ve been up and down this road several times from one end to the other and there’s no stinking wagon anywhere!”

Ruth: “Well, I haven’t gone that way in a couple of weeks. Maybe they moved it.”

Joann: “But I didn’t even see a row of pine trees like you described.”

Ruth: “Which end of the road did you start on?”

Joann: “I came from the west end all the way down and then I went back to make sure I hadn’t missed it.”

Once again I went through the directions for where the wagon was. As it turned out, I was giving directions coming from her house and she was receiving the directions as if she were coming from my house.

Ruth: “Well, where are you now?”

Joann: “I’m sitting at the crossroad, you know, the road coming from your house.”

Ruth: “Okay, and then you took a left and went all the way down to the end?”

Joann (sighing): “Oh man, I thought you said to turn right.”

Ruth (laughing): “Yes, but that's if you were coming from YOUR house. So turn LEFT and keep going east and you might have to go down to the end and turn around. It’s kind of hard to see unless you’re heading west.”

She did find the wagon, sitting right where I had seen it, up against a line of pine trees that were covered in a heavy coating of snow. The pictures are even better than I imagined when I first saw the wagon without snow on the ground.

There’s no doubt about it – Wisconsin winters are long and hard sometimes, but there are many advantages to winter. The world slows down and the blanket of snow buffers the usual noise making everything quiet and still.

Even If you don’t think you are much of a winter person, look around as you drive to work and back or as you run errands or visit family over the holidays. If the roads are clear, try taking a backroad to your destination. It’s a sure bet you’ll see many beautiful winter scenes unfolding before you.

Happy Shunpiking!

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