Tuesday, March 29, 2011


The spring has been pretty slow to take charge here in the tundra. Today was reasonably warm and the sun was shining. The Prairie Princess was finished with her job interviews for the day, so we went to find an interesting place to walk. I like to keep track of the ice melt at Minnehaha Falls, so we went there to see how it was progressing.

We parked by a huge snow pile. It's still there from the winter's plowing activity and may last another month. Down by the creek we found a place to demonstrate the "spring" in Minnesota. The princess jumped and I took the photo - my best spring picture thus far, although spring has been ridiculously reticent.

The falls in Minnehaha Creek are still sporting a fringe of icicles, but the water is high and roaring over the falls. There is still a lot of snow to melt, too, so the falls will be impressive for several more weeks.

I found a bench in a field of snow close to the creek, but downstream from the falls. The creek at that point is in a valley and the heat of the sun almost never reaches here. The air has to be warm enough to melt the snow before it will seep to the river. So far this spring, it hasn't been that warm. PP snapped the photo - another bench shot for the archives.

The Twins home opener is scheduled for April 8 against Oakland. That's just 10 days away.

I played some tennis yesterday at Fort Snelling and will again tomorrow at the same venue. I'm hoping that the outdoor season starts soon, but my optimism is guarded at best.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Winter regains grip

Now that the equinox has passed and spring has taken over the calendar, the west wind blew up a snow storm. It is to be expected here in the northland.  We got about four inches of new, white loveliness.  This winter is the snowiest winter in 27 years, fifth snowiest ever in St Paul. And there is some of March and all of April to navigate.  May, too.

I took my camera out the back door to record the flying flurries. It's not particularly scenic, but it is what it is.

After getting briefly stuck in my driveway this afternoon, and shoveling myself out, I drove to Fort Snelling's Fred Wells Tennis Center to play a couple of sets of tennis. Some of the fun of playing in a bubble is that after big snow falls, there are occurrences of snow clumps sliding off the bubble. They make a loud noise that sounds like distant thunder. We had some of that today while the geezers battled to a near draw - two sets 4-6, 6-3. Nobody fell down.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Winter loses its grip

The weather was pretty nice today.  There is a prediction of rain, snow and cold for the rest of the week, so I went to see how the ice on Minnehaha Falls was doing.  After a spell of mild weather, the ice dam on the falls has begun to loosen its grasp and the water in the creek is roaring over the falls.  The first photo was taken at the bottom creek level after I skated down the stairs which are still snow packed.

A photo from the top level shows the fragmentary condition of the ice pack on the falls. The ice looks unstable and probably is.  I kept my distance from any possible impact zone, if the ice were to fall, but it is a dramatic sight.  I'd like to be there with my camera when the mass falls, but it seems unlikely that I could predict that occurrence.

I walked along the lower level of the creek towards the big river.  As you can see, there were other folks in the area.  These people were on one of the down creek bridges posing for another photographer when I came by, so I took the photo, too.  The creek was raging by under the bridge.

Down creek the water was calmer as it flowed by the snow fields towards the Mississippi.  I walked to the end of the creek where it empties into the river and found a guy and his son doing some fishing in the early spring flood waters.  It was a nice day to see the creek as it changes into its summer form.

No tennis to report today.  The first part of the week is my rest period.  There were three days of good strenuous tennis last week and I felt like I needed the time to focus for Wednesday when I get back on the courts with the gang of geezers.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pi is about 3.14159265

Today, March 14 is Pi Day and also Albert Einstein's 132nd birthday. The other Albert Einstein, Albert Brooks, was born July 22, 1947. There are those who make pie on Pi Day, some who throw cream pies at each other, and others, like me, who go walking looking for a circular object to somehow represent the fact that the diameter of that circle is 1/3.14159... of the length of the circumference. John Elioff verified that to me in algebra class in about 1958, and it's still true.  It's nice to know that there is some constant in the universe.

My search for a circular object was random and fruitless, unless you consider the fact that I ended up at Raspberry Island, a rather fruit-like named location.  And raspberries make pretty good pies.  I took a picture from the stairs on the Wabasha bridge so that I'd have a photo to blog with.  This island is likely to be mostly under water by the time April is done.

The Prairie Princess helped plant some sedges there last summer that were washed away in the fall flood that struck last year.  The trees that stand on the island are likely flood tolerant, because they seem to have survived the flood and look healthy.

I thought about buying a pie from Baker's Square to celebrate Pi Day, but decided that I'd be better off bypassing the extra carbs and walking an extra mile or so.  So that's what I did.  Happy Pi Day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Daylight savings begins, pi day and equinox to follow

It seems almost unfair that we have more snow on the ground than the folks in Michigan. It's been a long snowy winter and it was looking like the thaw would begin in the middle of last week, but winter returned, My back yard is good measurement of the amount of snow still to be melted. The solstice is a week away and pi day is tomorrow, can the flood on the Mississippi be far behind?

There was plenty of tennis to be played last week. I played the usual four times and stayed pretty fit until the Saturday morning session, when I was a bit fatigued and lost two of the three sets we crammed into 90 minutes. All in all, it was a good week, and proves again that you can't win them all. One should be content to actually play and finish them all without falling down. And I am.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Walking by the Creek

The spring season is reluctant to come, but the sun is strong and seems to be insisting. There has been new snow, and new snow makes the environment fresh and new, while still retaining the shapes of winter. I went walking by Minnehaha Falls, a favorite spot in all seasons. The falls are still mostly ice, but the water is flowing freely under and around the ice, and the scene is changing. The stairs to the lower level to the falls are still chained, a warning that they are closed, but they are often used, but never shoveled. It is an adventure to get to the lower levels, but the rewards are views of the creek as it shakes off the ice of winter.  I half skied down the stairs, hanging onto the rail as I descended.

One of the many bridges over the creek at the lower level shows the emerging creek and the bareness of the yet to emerge vegetation.

Minnehaha Falls is still icy. The winter's shape is changing, but the form built up over four months of winter remains. Off to the right of the falls is a field of very blue ice. It's attractive, but probably a dangerous place to tread. There is, however a well worn path to the ice field and behind it too. I guess I didn't get that in the photo.  And I avoided the temptation to get much closer.

Another, closer shot of the hanging ice field. It's been there for months, but is destined to fall in the next few weeks.

I include another photo of benches to continue my series of benches and to show the depth of the snow. These will be bare again in a few weeks as the strength of the spring sun grows.

Minnehaha Creek is flowing and there are islands of ice and snow in the stream. These, too, are temporary.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Things Past

It's too soon to post photos of windchilled snowbanks. This hibiscus against the sky is one of my favorites from my last days in Port Charlotte. It's way too early here to find blooms of such beauty, but spring will show its face pretty soon.

I played some tennis again last night at Wooddale, after over a week off. I was a little off my timing, and perhaps a little weaker than usual, but it was nice to again smack some forehands in friendly competition.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Twenty-four hours and 1,655 miles

On March 2, 2011, I looked down to see this.

This morning, a day later, the downward view is somewhat different.

This is what I get for pining for snow banks and windchill.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Snowy egret gets away

Santini and I had another walk around Ollie's Pond today, except that this time we walked it in a clockwise direction. About halfway around when the sun peaked out from behind today's cloud cover we stopped for a photo. Note the wetland in the back ground. That is Ollie's Pond.

We chanced upon a snowy egret yesterday when at the public beach. It was pretty enough for a picture, and I hoped an action picture. I readied the camera and walked towards the bird, and as expected when I arrived within its discomfort zone, it flew. And I snapped. The result was bloggable enough and so I'm blogging with it.

Snowy egret scramming.

My time here is coming to a close soon. It's been a pleasant break from reality, but I'm pining for snowbanks and windchill. I've got to get out of this hell hole.

Just kidding.