Just a Dandelion

I finally saw my first wildflower of the season at Willow River State Park.  I wasn’t too excited when it turned out to be a dandelion.  Within a yard of the dandelion were a few small, blue violets.  I don’t know what type of violet.  Wildflowers can be hard to identify.  For example, I also saw some small white flowers that could be either a type of everlasting or a type of pussytoes.  I’m not sure which.

Blue Violet
Everlasting or Pussytoes
Willow River


Complaining About the Weather

Spring On the Willow River
Spring On the Willow River

This time of year, late March and early April, I always complain about the weather.  I’ve lived in the upper Midwest for decades, so I should know that we always get winter weather this time of year.  But I always think that maybe, just maybe, we might make it through the end of this season with no more cold weather.  Never happens.  Never, ever.  So the best thing to do is to bundle up and get outside.  I did today.  I spent the afternoon hiking in the state park.  By the end of the afternoon the sun was coming out and all was good with the world.  Spring is, after all, just around the corner.

I was walking through the woods when I noticed bits of bright red among the dead leaves scattered on the ground.  I first thought that they were litter left by careless hikers.  Luckily I took a closer look.  They were mushrooms.  When I got home I looked them up.  Scarlet Cups, one of the first mushrooms to emerge after winter.  One of the first signs of spring.  A surprising color to see on the forest floor at this time of year.


Here are a few more shots from today.

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Water and Ice

I hiked to the falls on Willow River State Park yesterday.  I wanted to see and photograph the falls as they look in the midst of this cold spell.  (Speaking of cold, when I got to the park, I discovered that I had brought two left-hand gloves and nothing for my right hand.  I spent the outing with my right hand in my pocket or getting icy cold when I was taking photos.)  I was surprised by how much ice there was and by how much the ice muted the sound the falls makes when there is no ice.  I’m posting two pairs of pictures.  One of each pair was taken  in late June.  One in each was was taken yesterday.

February - Willow River Falls
February – Willow River Falls
June - Willow River Falls
June – Willow River Falls










Willow River - February
Willow River – February
June - Willow River
June – Willow River























Some other shots from the day:

Last Day In Willow River

Yesterday I made a special effort to go hiking at Willow River State Park because I knew that it might be my last chance until next spring.  The weather forecasters said that by today the trails would be covered with snow.  I spent a couple of hours tramping through the woods discovering faint trails through the woods that weren’t visible before all the trees and shrubs dropped their leaves.  I saw parts of the park I wasn’t even aware off.  I took a few photos:


Last Night in Twisted River(I derived the title of this post from the title of one of the best novels I’ve read over the last several years, John Irving’s Last Night In Twisted River.)



More Bugs

Everyone loves butterflies.  I do.  How many people see beauty in a box elder bug?  They are beautiful creatures as witnessed in these photos.

I found these bugs during a hike through Willow River State Park.  Here are a few more photos from the park.

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