By Joann M. Ringelstetter
In early January of this year, Ruth wrote about how we had been waiting all winter for some snow. On Friday, January 20, we received about three inches of snow. We usually wait a day for the back roads to be cleared, so we didn’t go out to photograph until Sunday. Unfortunately, it began to mist, then sleet shortly after we began to photograph. So we ended up heading home sooner than we would have liked.
Following that snowfall, we went into a warmer than normal February, with only occasional light dustings of snow. Then on Friday, March 2, we received five inches of snow. However, the snow depth on the farm fields wasn’t all that good and what I really needed were more winter images for next year’s scenic calendar. So I decided to go out at dawn on Sunday morning to hike through some of the local nature preserves, leaving Ruth at home to continue her research for our spring photography trip.
Around 6:15 a.m., I looked outside and realized that we had gotten another dusting of snow overnight.
Great! That will only help with the nature scenes I’m hoping to capture!
As I headed down the road, it started to snow again. When I arrived at Pheasant Branch Conservancy, which is only about five miles from my home, it was snowing more heavily. I grabbed my gear and began walking down the trail along Pheasant Branch Creek.
The trails through this conservancy used to be more like deer trails with stepping stones that were used to cross the creek (three different times if you took the entire trail from Century Avenue to Park Street). As I walked along the now wider asphalt trails looking toward the new footbridge that crosses the creek, I couldn’t help but reminisce about “the old days” when fewer people used the trails and skipping across the stones was a test of skill and balance. When I got to the bridge, I realized that the stepping stones were still in place, even though the trail now leads you across the bridge.
When I left the conservancy, it was snowing huge flakes and it was getting difficult to keep my camera lens dry. I next headed down by Lake Mendota, but didn’t see any photo opportunities there. It was snowing so hard that I decided I should probably just head home. But then the snow let up, so I continued over to Lakeview Park. By the time I got there, it was again snowing very hard, so I again started to head home. And then it let up again and it seemed like it might be done snowing. So I decided to go to the UW Arboretum.
By the time I arrived at the Arboretum, it was snowing to beat the band, so I decided to call Ruth and ask her to look up some information about my next planned stop, which I’ll tell you about in a minute. Ruth lives about 30 miles from the Arboretum and she told me that it wasn’t snowing a bit at her house. She had watched the news and they said that the snow had totally moved away from Madison towards Milwaukee.
Hmmm, not from where I’m sitting.
So she looked on the radar and there was a tiny “bubble” sitting right over Madison. Then she suggested that I just take an umbrella to protect my camera.
Now, why didn’t I think of that?!
I grabbed the umbrella out of the back and headed over to capture the stone arch bridge leading into the Arboretum.
Then I drove down Arboretum Drive, parked my car, grabbed my gear (and my umbrella since it was still snowing), and hiked into the Wingra Woods area. The sign at the start of the trail said something about icy trails, but they beckoned me anyway.
It was incredibly peaceful and quiet in the woods as the snow fell softly and the sun tried to come out in spite of the snow. After a long, meditative stroll, I returned to the car and headed over to Tenney Park on Madison’s near east side. My mission was to capture an old bridge that was built over the lagoon in 1929.
Ruth and I have fond memories of Tenney Park, both in summer and in winter, but we had never photographed there. In the ‘60s, we lived on a farm north of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. There were just over 100 acres and we milked about 30 cows. During the summer, in between harvesting crops of hay, Mom and Dad would take us to Tenney Park to swim in Lake Mendota.
Tenney Park is well-known for the ducks that frequent the lagoon. The lagoon is also famous for ice skating in the winter. This is the other fond memory we have of Tenney Park. After I graduated from high school and moved into Madison, Ruth would join me for some winter skating on the Tenney Park lagoon.
As I was leaving Tenney Park that day, I noticed rows of colorful canoes stacked on the other side of the Yahara River Parkway that runs between Lakes Mendota and Monona. It reminded me that spring is close at hand and people will soon be canoeing once again.
Next week’s weather forecast calls for most days to be in the upper 60s and low 70s. I took a walk in my woods today and didn’t see any flowers popping up yet, but the snow just melted two or three days ago. With next week’s warm weather, I expect to see some crocuses bursting forth any day now.