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Walking in Beauty

November 29, 2023

Winter comes to Clear Lake

The first snow of the season blanketed the preserves with white.

In the woods, the frozen hush amplifies the skittering of a leaf against the ice or the melody of a bird overhead. The new-fallen pallet captures impressions. At Brennan Woods Monday morning, boot prints and paw marks told the story of a person and a pet who enjoyed the full walking loop despite freezing temperatures.

At Elizabeth Hanna Nature Preserve, footprints also showed trail use by a human, deer and a rabbit. I am guessing it is the human who built the tiny snowman.

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A snowman, a mere foot tall, sprung up like a winter mushroom near the northern trail head at Elizabeth Hanna Nature Preserve. Above, footprints in the snow on the Hanna trail reveal use by both people and deer.

Winter is a time of rest for the Midwestern landscape. The Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy trails are available year-round for those willing to tackle what Mother Nature has to offer and embrace the serenity of a sleeping woods.

The National Park Service (NPS) suggests snow shoes and traction devices for those heading out onto snow-covered trails. Dress appropriately and check the weather forecast. “Always be willing to turn around,” say NPS guidelines. Weather and trail conditions can change rapidly when snow begins to fall.

Indiana fishing regulations say 4 inches of solid ice is the minimum to safely walk on. However, rivers and streams with always moving water can be dangerous even when the surface is frozen.

Clear Lake roiled Monday with gray waves, but the man-made channel in the sheltered fen at Brennan Woods supported skim ice. The first thin, slushy layer formed a solid sheet across the water, forest greens and deep browns revealing the fertile life beneath.

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The water in the fen is covered with a skim of ice. At right is a photo of the snow-dusted fen from above.

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