COLUMN: Oh the irony of trudging through feet of snow searching for signs of spring
The return of feathered friends means spring is just around the corner, despite the amount of snow still on the ground.
As a major bird lover, I always anxiously await my feathered friends' return to the Northland each year.
So, after spotting several geese and swans along the Mississippi River on my trips to and from the Pioneer office last week, I had the lovely idea of trying to get some good pictures of them on the next nice day we had.
If my mission was accomplished, I figured I'd put together a "first sights of spring" photo gallery, as we usually do this time of year.
When Saturday rolled around and it was a beautiful sunshiny day in the mid-40s, my husband Nathan and I decided to go look for some birds and enjoy the nice weather.
Then, things decided to take a turn for the snowy. So now, here I am a few days later writing this column from the comfort of my couch while I watch the snow come down like crazy outside my living room window.
The irony of compiling a gallery of photos showing "signs of spring" as a severe winter storm sweeps across the region is not lost on me.
But, even though we may have a foot or two of snow more than usual for this time of year, it is technically spring nonetheless. And the temperatures have been quite warm in the south this "spring" so the poor birds have no choice but to begin their migration north — whether the lakes are melted off or not.
Here in Bemidji, the only open water I've seen is the stretch of the Mississippi River where it flows between Lake Irving and Lake Bemidji — which I pass every day when I go to work — and where it exits Lake Bemidji on the east side of the lake and continues its way southeast.
So, this is where we decided to spend our time on Saturday in search of waterfowl.
Starting off down by Lake Irving, I stomped through waist-high drifts along the river and crawled among the cattails and bushes to capture a small flock of trumpeter swans and a couple of little ducks. I also spotted a pair of Canada geese chilling along the icy shore.
With the sun still shining bright and temperatures hovering in the high 30s as it reached 5 p.m., we decided it was too nice to go home just yet and extended our excursion a little further. Next, we headed to the eastern side of Lake Bemidji to the trestle bridge that crosses the Mississippi River as part of the Blue Ox Trail.
It took a little bit of trekking through knee-deep snow, but after a while we made it to the bridge in time to catch a couple pairs of Canada geese swimming along the river.
As I stood on the bridge, I closed my eyes for a moment and just listened to the water trickling underneath, lapping against the ice along the shoreline. Birds chirped from nearby trees and the geese honked as they floated by. And in that moment, without looking at the snow all around me, I could hear and feel the nudge of spring.
I know it sounds cheesy, but I love that even though spring looks a bit different here in the Northland, the sounds and feelings of spring are all the same — no matter where you are.
Annalise Braught is the editor and a photographer at the Pioneer. She can be reached at (218) 358-1990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.