By Joann M. Ringelstetter
I’ve always been a fan of snow, especially for Christmas. But this year, although November temperatures felt like January, we haven’t had any measurable snow in the month of December. And, as I begin the writing of this blog post, my home is surrounded in dense fog. Instead of looking out my window at the snow-covered woods, I am dreaming of a white Christmas, like the ones I remember as a child.
Last winter, due to the polar vortex that besieged much of the country, Ruth and I ventured out only twice to photograph. And because our family gathers on days other than Christmas Day, we had the opportunity on Christmas afternoon to capture some holiday scenes.
We decided to visit Mineral Point, Wisconsin’s third oldest city, with a population of about 2,500. Mineral Point has some of the most beautiful 19th century architecture and is a town filled with artists' studios. We figured we might find some great Christmas scenes there and our hunch was correct.
Mineral Point is about an hour to the southeast of where I live and we left home around mid-afternoon, thinking that would give us enough time to capture some snow scenes and Christmas scenes prior to dusk when the Christmas lights would come on.
However, about 20 minutes from home, it began to snow heavily and we debated if we should continue our trip because the roads were getting a little slippery. The snow seemed intermittent so, being the diehards that we are, we decided to keep going.
Due to the slower driving speed in the snow, we reached Mineral Point with a limited amount of time to photograph before dusk, so we worked quickly. First we visited High Street and captured some of the daylight scenes you saw above. Then we visited the First Methodist Church and I trudged through the snowbanks to capture the church doors as the snow continued to lightly fall.
Then there was just enough time to drive down Shake Rag Street, where Cornish immigrants settled in the 1830s. I hurried to capture a few scenes before we needed to head back to High Street for the 20 minutes or so of perfect lighting for the Christmas lights.
The scenes were beautiful but the snow began to fall more heavily and the snowflakes were huge and very wet. So it was a challenge to keep my camera lens clean as I captured the scenes. After a few minutes, I was covered in wet snow, but I had what I needed and we headed back downtown.
As dusk began to fall, we parked the car on Commerce Street to capture a row of stores all decked out for the holidays. There was garland around the windows and lamp posts, and there were wreaths on the street lamps. I set up my tripod and got my camera ready and waited for the lights to come on….and waited…..and waited.
“Oh, oh,” I said to myself, “I’ll bet they have the lights set to come on at 5:00 pm, which will be too late to get the perfect lighting.” Finally, I picked up my camera equipment and headed back to the car to talk to Ruth. Just as I began to tell her that we might be out of luck, the whole town lit up. Now there was no time to spare. So I quickly went back to my original position and started snapping.
Then we headed up High Street to recapture some of the scenes I had captured earlier, now lit up with Christmas lights. The snow continued and the wind began to blow, which made it even more difficult to keep my camera lens free from splotches of wet snow.
As darkness began to descend on the town, I worked to capture the last Christmas scenes before it was too dark.
The last thing I really wanted to capture was a long street scene, but there was a car parked in the way….the only car on that side of the street at that time. I said, maybe even out loud, “I sure wish someone would move that car.” A few seconds later, a man came out of one of the doors, hopped in the car, and drove off. Ask and you shall receive.
As I wrap up this blog post, I am listening to some instrumental Christmas music, drinking a cup of hot cocoa, savoring a gluten-free cutout cookie my sisters lovingly baked and beautifully decorated for me, and dreaming of a white Christmas.
May your holiday season be a blessed one shared with family and friends and may you remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Merry Christmas and Happy Shunpiking!