Sunday, February 3, 2013

Winter on the Backroads

By Ruth A. Ringelstetter

It’s hard to believe we’re halfway through winter now. We’ve had a blizzard, days so far above average temps that the blizzard snow has melted, and then more normal Wisconsin winter weather, with cold wind chills and a little snow.

Whenever the timing of snow is right (snow during the week so that driving conditions and the snow cover are good on the weekend), yet warm enough that Joann’s face doesn’t freeze off immediately, we take to the backroads to capture winter scenes. We have to have a blanket of snow. (Brown is not our color.)

On one of our trips several years ago, we headed out into Richland County. Driving around on the backroads, we came across a barnyard with a herd of pigs. Now, normally when we see pigs, or should I say when the pigs see us, they run for the barn or shed, and there is no opportunity to photograph them. These pigs, however, were different. They came to the fence and were very curious. They were enjoying the sunshine, and we were enjoying them.

Another favorite spot in Richland County is an old abandoned farmstead. The barn is only a foundation now, but the farmhouse and windmill still stand. I always detour our route to stop in front of it whenever we’re in the area.

Some locations, like this one, draw us to visit over and over again in different seasons of the year. Depending on the weather conditions, and the time of year, we come away with very different photos.

The sky conditions, the season of the year, the time of day, all make a difference in what any scene looks like.

Another favorite stop in any season is the Conkle School. It is a well-preserved school, but we don’t have any information about who preserves it. It sits on a country road across from a cemetery.

We often participate in the annual Christmas Bird Count that takes place in Sauk County. Most years we are lucky enough to have snow cover. This makes it easier to find some species of birds, as well as gives us a few opportunities for photography. When we stop to photograph a scene, I keep counting any birds that I can see.

In 2009, the Christmas Bird Count was the day after Christmas and there was a good snow cover. As we counted birds, we kept seeing scenes to photograph. One such scene was this goat He had his hayroll spread out enough to use it as a bed, and close enough to munch on when he was hungry. We love finding cute animals.

These days there are no typical Wisconsin winters. We might have snow on the ground that lasts all winter, or the snow may all melt down to the grass several times before spring finally arrives.

One winter, it snowed every week during January and we went to the Stoughton area often. We found one of my favorite winter farm scenes on one of those trips. I love the red of the barn against the bright white snow in the scene below.

We also love churches in the snow, and on one of those Stoughton area trips, we found a church and cemetery across a snowy field. Depending on what would get planted in the field, this scene might not even be visible during other seasons of the year.

We know there are a lot of other ways to enjoy winter. Many people ski, snowmobile, snowshoe, or go ice fishing. Winter can offer something for everyone. Our pleasure is to see how the snow changes the landscape and to capture it in photographs.

Happy Shunpiking!

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