Tag Archives: river

A Winter Blast

Our progress towards spring suffered a setback last night, as we awoke to around 8-9 inches of fresh snow.  School was canceled and we once again face the task of clearing and piling snow. Ugh! snow1 As discouraging as it is to see, with temperatures forecasted to reach into the 50’s and 60’s next week, we know this scene is only temporary.snow2 I decided to step out on to the porch this afternoon to capture a few pictures of the white stuff.  One of the things I enjoy about blogging, and one of the primary reasons I do it, is that it allows me to document events like this from year to year.  I always find it interesting to look back at pictures from earlier years to see evidence of late snowfalls and later proof that spring and summer eventually do arrive.  Last year, we received a big snow fall on April 18th.  A week later I posted and shared pictures of the dramatic changes that can occur in Minnesota during the spring time over a short period.  (See the post here).


Below is a shot from our porch towards the river.  Grudgingly, I must admit that it is a pretty sight today.

snow3Nonetheless, I am hoping that it looks very different by next week.  I am SO ready for winter to move along so that I can get outside and into my gardens.  Spring cannot come soon enough!

I hope spring has arrived in your neck of the woods!








Filed under Miscellaneous, Outbuildings

Maiden Voyage

We have lived on the river for over a decade now and have a very good understanding of its unpredictable nature.  Sometimes it is completely flooded in the spring for weeks on end.  Other times, like this year, there is no flooding and the transition from winter to summer is uneventful.

Heavy summer rains can also cause it to rise unexpectedly and flood during the hottest months of summer.  During those types of summers, we are not able to go down and enjoy the river much at all.  I’m a little freaked out by the power of a flooded river and have always forbade my children from going near it in those conditions.

We have often talked about getting some kayaks or a canoe to explore the river beyond just walking along its bank on our property.  During some of the summers when the water has been low, we have actually walked in the water a ways up-stream to explore.  The kids have also navigated it a little aboard our oldest son’s scow boat creation, but that was pretty labor intensive and they never really went that far.

With the early spring and low water levels (remember, we haven’t even had a real winter here in Minnesota), we decided to finally take the plunge and buy some kayaks to explore this winding river.  We took them out on our maiden voyage this weekend.

We decided to head upstream first to see how difficult it was to paddle against the current.  Floating downstream first, only to discover it was impossible to navigate upstream, seemed like a bad idea.

Keep in mind it was April 1st yesterday here in Minnesota.  The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 60’s.  Crazy.

We bought two single kayaks and one double.  That way, the kids can each have their own vessel to maneuver, and theoretically it will prevent them from bickering and blaming each other when they go floating into a tree or slam into the river bank.

The double kayak works out well for me because I can just sit back and enjoy the scenery while Jesse paddles, or, I can blame him when we get off course.

We were all real excited about the new kayaks and about being on the river.  It is something we have talked about for so long and yesterday we were finally doing it!

The river has a lot of fallen trees in its winding path.  Most of the time you can navigate around them, but sometimes you have to get out on to the river bank and go around.

After going upstream quite a ways, which was new territory for us, we ran into a tree jam that we weren’t able to navigate through with the double kayak (the kids managed to push themselves through with the singles).  We decided to head back downstream since we were just out for a leisurely afternoon paddle to explore.

Going downstream is a breeze.  Paddling is only required to keep the kayak on course.

In a few weeks, the river will look much different as the leaves fill out and form a canopy.  And then, the mosquitoes will hatch…and the whole experience will become very different. We will have to figure out how to deal with that aspect when the time comes.

After our maiden voyage on the river, we were very pleased that we finally decided to buy some kayaks.  We are hoping that was just the first of many lazy weekend days spent together paddling along the river.


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Filed under Daily life, Kids

A Winter Walk

Over winter break, I took my camera along on a walk we took down behind our house.  We own some acreage down in the river bottom that we rarely have the opportunity to explore.  In the spring, the river is usually flooded for several weeks, or even months, and the land is inaccessible.  Once the temperatures warm up, the mosquitoes hatch and it becomes unbearable to venture down there.  If we have a dry fall, we usually enjoy some walks before hunting season begins.  Once the snow falls – at least during a normal winter – it once again becomes difficult to enjoy a walk because of the deep snow.

We are not having a “normal” winter though, so the land is still accessible and we are trying to take advantage of it.

Despite the flood waters that come every spring, we have some enormous old trees among all the smaller saplings and brush.  This one looks like it may not be standing too much longer.

We came across the monster tree below, as well.  I cannot imagine how many years it has stood there, and all the spring floods it has seen come and go.

Taking a closer look, you can see a small area of daylight through the trunk of this tree.  I wonder how long it will take for the critters and the weather to chisel away at the heart of the tree until it finally succumbs to gravity.

Sofie, our Golden Retriever, is always beyond excited when we head towards the river bottom.  There are so many things to explore.  She was particularly excited about this hollowed out log.  Fearful of the possibility that a skunk could be residing within, we quickly encouraged her to move along.

Our goofy cat, Nina, also followed us on our walk.  She seemed annoyed the entire time and was meowing loudly as she trotted behind us.  She eventually gave up on us and turned around.  We met up with her again when we reached the house porch.

The warm temperatures of December have left the river open in most areas.  The open water certainly must make life easier for the wildlife that roams the river bottom.

Since we took this walk a few weeks ago, all the snow has melted.  We need to get back down there soon to enjoy the peace and tranquility while we can.


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Filed under Daily life

The Problem with a River is…

it is unpredictable and constantly changing.  The lazy, winding river by our house is no different.  It rises and recedes as the rain comes and goes.  You would think we would have this figured out by now.

After all, remember our maple syrup miscalculations?

In preparation for collecting sap, we placed our pails safely next to the maple trees in the backwater area of the river.

After a week of rain, we returned to the river bottom to find this…

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Filed under Daily life

Down by the River

We have a winding river that runs through our property.  During the spring thaw, it usually floods for at least a few weeks.  If there are heavy periods of rain in the summer months we often get additional flooding.

In addition to the main river, much of our property is lowland, what we call the “river bottom.”  It is swampy and marshy most of the year.  Beginning some time in May, the mosquitoes hatch and it becomes quite unbearable down by the river.

As the summer progresses, however, and we experience drier weather, the mosquito population subsides and the backwater (below) recedes enough so that we are able to cross it and go out to the point where the river and backwater meet.  We still have to put down some type of lumber as a “bridge” to walk across the water and muck of the backwater.

In past years, we have only went down to the river on a few hot summer days to take a dip in the river and maybe have a picnic.  Totally overgrown with grass, we would just stomp down an area on the point and throw down our blanket to sit.

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Filed under Daily life, Kids

Spring Flooding and Maple Miscalculations

Remember last week, before we left for our trip, when we tapped a few of our  maple trees in the river bottom behind our house?  The pails sat safely next to the base of the trees, waiting to catch the sap when it starts to flow.

Apparently it rained nearly the entire time we were gone.  It rained a lot and the snow melted…a lot.  We arrived home Thursday night surprised to see how much of the snow was gone.

It was still raining on our drive home from the airport.  It was evident that winter was on its way out and the dreariness of spring was upon us.  In the morning, I glanced out the windows in the back of the house towards the river.  Sadly, our tree-tapping experiment had gone awry.

The river has already flooded, a little earlier than usual.  The flood waters have interfered with our first attempt to collect the sap out of the maple trees.  Instead of sitting safely next to the tree, the collection pails are floating in the swollen river.  We need a new plan.  Despite my frustration over the floating pails, I do find the flooded river bottom eerily beautiful.

Wasting no time, Jesse formulated a plan to retrieve the pails.  Using the scow boat, he floated out to the pails and gathered them up.

We located more maple trees on higher ground behind the house and drilled new holes for the taps.

Once the spiles were inserted, some sap started dripping out.  We were so excited!!

So excited that our daughter did not want to see it go to waste.  She said that it only has a hint of sweetness.

Once again, we are all set up and waiting for the sap to really start flowing.   Let the adventure continue…

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Filed under Daily life, Maple Syrup