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December 4, 2010


After unsuccessfully wrestling with my vintage snowblower for the first time this season, I dug out the trusty shovel and cleared the sidewalk for 1 ˝ hours (a lotta sidewalk).  I was ready for something a little more fun so I grabbed the snowshoes and headed to the public lands east of Muscoda near Goodweiler Lake with my trusty canine companion, Bud the Wonder Dog.


There always is something special about the first snowfall of the year, especially when the snow has fallen gently without much wind.  The trees were covered with a light blanket of white, the prairie grasses were a beautiful brown hue against the snow, the “running slough” along the highbank was still open with islands of ice and snow in the dark water, the expansive marsh looked uninviting, but striking.  The distant bluffs, 5 miles upstream to Bogus Bluff, clearly were slumbering as winter draped the landscape.  Blue skies were visible to the north toward Richland County while heavy gray clouds covered the Grant County sky with the river the seeming delineation, no in between, gray to blue. 


Breaking a trail through virgin snow emphasizes the solitude for a man and his dog.  No human footprints, no deer tracks, nada.  The occasional chattering of a chickadee and the distant honking of some uncomfortable Canada geese a mile or two away were the only sounds… other than the muffled crunching of snowshoes underfoot.  As I looked around, my mind drifted to days gone by and thoughts of the early pioneers on the prairie, hunkered down for the winter with a season’s worth of firewood and a cold outhouse, and then further back to the times of the Effigy Mound Builders, who sought shelter in the Wisconsin River valley caves and rockshelters, hunting white tail deer for food, passing the time with painting or carving rock art, re-telling oral traditions that had been told for generations, trying to survive another winter with the promise of warmer spring days and plentiful food in the future. 


After some time in reverie, I headed back to the vehicle with thoughts of dry clothes, a warm house, a glass of wine and local cheese and some good tunes on the stereo.  For many of us, the stack of firewood has been replaced by a thermostat; the hunting for the daily repast replaced by a trip to the fridge.  But, the telling of stories and the singing of songs remains part of the human experience.  As I sipped my wine and nibbled the cheese, I couldn’t help but thing how fortunate Wisconsinites of the 21st century area with all the comforts of home, but also, how there are still those similarities of the human condition that transcend time.  Gotta have shelter, food and drink, stories to tell and to hear, and music to replenish the soul.


All in all, another good day in the valley. 


Pictures from the journey.


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Last Modified:  2/15/2011 9:32:23 AM
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