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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Wonderland Along the Shore of Lake Michigan

I didn't expect to be writing my first post of 2014 from Michigan, but here I am. We've extended our holiday visit with family because of the winter storm that has brought over a foot of snow, whiteout conditions and subzero temperatures.

evergreens covered in snow

It has been snowing steadily for four days and the result is breathtaking. We don't get this kind of snowfall in Georgia so it is a real treat to experience this. The kids and dogs have taken full advantage, sledding and frolicking in the snow. Most people are staying indoors and off the roads and it is eerily quiet.

winter wonderland

The wind was pretty wicked for two days and even the ice cycles got covered in snow.

ice cycles covered in snow

The landscape blanketed in pure white is soothing and brings a freshness to the area. The walnut trees that tower over my mother's front garden look even more majestic covered in the snow.

walnut trees covered in snow

The few squirrels that are still out searching for food find maneuvering along the snow covered branches rather challenging. And, when they do find a treasure amongst all the snow they stay put and devour their find. I was able to photograph this black squirrel before too much snow blanketed the trees.

black squirrel eating walnut

Before the roads became impassable, I ventured out to the frozen shores of Lake Michigan to see how it looked in the winter. I heard a snowy owl had been spotted near the lighthouse.

Lake Michigan in winter

It was brutally cold with the wind whipping off the lake but there were several other photographers there looking for the owl so I wasn't the only crazy one there!

Lighthouse in winter, St. Joseph Michigan

Walking to the lighthouse was treacherous with all the frozen ice and frankly it was just too cold for me. Even dressed in the warmest winter wear I have, my fingers were dangerously cold and the snowy owl had long gone. That was terribly disappointing.

ice covered railing along Lake Michigan

I warmed up in the car and then took a stroll along the beach. The wind had swirled the sand and snow together to make interesting patterns in the terrain.

snow covered sand dunes

A bit further down the beach I found some seagulls huddled together trying to keep warm. They look like small mounds of snow as they blend into the snowy landscape.

seagulls in snow

But looking closer you can see how they fluff up to trap air between their feathers and their bodies creating a natural layer of insulation. As they rest they even tuck their beak into their feathers to breathe in this warmer air. With the arctic wind whipping across the lake onto the beach you can't help but wonder if they are dreaming of warmer days.

seagull fluffed up to keep warm in winter


They took off as soon as I got too close but settled down again quickly once they discovered I wasn't a threat.

seagulls in flight over snowy beach

Along the shoreline the snow, ice and lapping water makes some wild sculptures. It is hard to believe people will be sunbathing in this spot in a few months.

snow and ice on Lake Michigan

The danger of walking along the beach when it is covered in snow is that it is hard to tell where the beach ends and the frozen lake begins. It can be very dangerous and the terrain deceiving. The snow looks solid but often is not and it is easy to fall through the snow into the freezing water. 

snow and ice along Lake Michigan

You wouldn't want to end up stuck here. I am thankful I brought my zoom lens along.

snow and ice on Lake Michigan

The polar vortex has brought some extreme weather conditions across much of the U.S. and I hope everyone affected is staying safe and warm! I am getting anxious to get home and see how my garden survived the freezing temperatures (without any snow insulation). It has finally stopped snowing and the arctic temperatures are retreating slightly. I even saw the sun trying to shine.

sun peaking out from trees in snow storm

Hopefully the road conditions will improve soon but until then we are enjoying this winter wonderland. Who knows when we will be seeing this kind of snowfall again.

12 comments:

  1. The black squirrel is so cute! I have never seen snow at the beach, since I only frequent NC beaches, although the coast of NC did experience a blizzard one Christmas back in the late '80s.

    All of that snow is beautiful! It sounds like your kids are loving it.

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  2. I've so enjoyed keeping track of you through your facebook posts, Karin...but the photos on this post are awesome, truly! I'm glad you braved the cold to get the shots of the water's edge and the beach. Really breathtaking. I am sure you're finding blessings in your extra long stay with your family...but ready to get home! We did not get snow with this polar vortex but did get much colder temps here than normal...It got down to a low of 3 degrees at one point, but I think it's supposed to get into the 50's this weekend!! I hope you get home soon :)

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  3. We had the sun come out today even though storm clouds were still looming. I did see many photos on the web from Lake Michigan and it looks so frosty there. I do like how the sand and snow mix in your images. I could not drive to the beaches here because conditions were so bad. You were fortunate to get there and get nice photos. I hope you get home soon. Drive safe.

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  4. You are brave, Karin! I didn't even go outside much during the polar vortex! I agree--all the photos of Lake Michigan during this event have been incredible. Your shots with the gulls and the snow/sand mixes are incredible!

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  5. Oh, Karin, I am so glad that I am just looking at pictures and I am not having to live in that weather. Absolutely beautiful, but just chills me to the bone to look at it! Safe travels home for y'all...when you can get out. This will be a Christmas to remember, huh?

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  6. Some really great photos which this weather makes for, but that's the only good thing. Michigan especially has had some great photos come out of this Winter.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

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  7. Nice pictures and I hope you are enjoying it. The snow is nice to look at from afar!

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  8. I love all your photos, I want to wander there too Karin. I am so blessed though that i am just looking at your photos and not living in those conditions. Maybe i've lived in those before so i hate living there now. Have you heard of the Little Ice Age that might be starting this year? http://www.earth-heal.com/news/news/73-climate-change/572-new-ice-age.html

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  9. Beautiful photos. I love visiting the beach this time of year. Everything is so quiet, it all looks so different covered in snow and ice. I find it amazing that in a few short months it will be covered in sun bathers instead.

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  10. What a treat! Crazy cold but I'm sure your kids will never forget it! My kids have fond memories of all the snow they experienced when we lived in upstate northern NY. Seeing snow at a beach does seem odd, but a bit fantastical, too.

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  11. Karin these are magical pictures...I especially love that you braved the cold and captured those pictures of the sand and snow...

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"Don't wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your soul"

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