Gray skies met gray waters at the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir today, but the mild 40-degree temperatures were energizing and inspiring!
After one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record, spring is unfolding perfectly. The near-60 degree temps over the past week have melted the remaining snow and the Wisconsin River is completely open now in Wausau. Most snow piles around the area are completely gone, or reduced to tiny islands of white in newly-growing grass.
Charlie and I hiked this trail on this very same day last year when there was still snow covering the forest floor and most of the trail. I wore my winter boots today, not knowing whether we would find snow or slush in the shady forest, but as it turned out, I didn't need them. Next time we're here, I'll be wearing my regular hiking boots and probably one less layer of sweatshirts too!
Ironically, when we hiked this trail last year, Charlie treed a raccoon and this year, she happened upon a dead one at the base of a tree. It had died recently and apparently of natural causes or possibly disease, curled up at the base of a rotting tree trunk.
The return of migrating birds is a welcome sound now that winter has released its icy grip. Bird calls of every kind reverberated through the woods and echoed off the lake. Trilling of cranes, honking geese, the scream of eagles and hawks, hollow thudding of woodpeckers working on trees and the chirp and tweet of every other small bird surrounded us. Although my ears were a little cold, I removed my hat for awhile just to listen.
While some people may have seen today as a gray and ugly day, a day to stay inside and curl up under a blanket, I saw the mild air combined with nature coming alive as a gift! Today was the most beautiful day and Charlie and I enjoyed it to the fullest. We experienced the quiet of the woods, the awakening of the earth and the progression of seasons moving toward new experiences to be had.