It is that time of year when sunset brings a rosy glow to the eastern sky. Cold morning temperatures this past week made small lakes freeze over with a skim of ice, but some unseasonably warm, sunny days yesterday and today will no doubt reverse that.
Nevertheless, cold winds from the northwest have been driving flocks of tundra swans southeast to their wintering grounds. On Monday, a day off from work, I counted no less than five flocks flying overhead. They were flying low enough, giving their eerie low whistling calls, that I could hear them from indoors. The larger trumpeter swans have also flown, leaving their breeding lakes in search of open water. The trumpeter swans do not travel as far as tundra swans; they spend the winter at various places along the Mississippi River in southeast Minnesota.
Some people find this time of year in Minnesota unsettling, with the onset of short days and freezing nights. Their thoughts turn to warmer, sunnier places. But I enjoy the stark beauty of bare trees, the green of pines and spruces that seems greener in the absence of brighter colors.