Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring and Ice at River Bend

On this nicest weekend day we've seen in months, with highs close to 60 F., Dave and I headed down to River bend Nature Center for a walk. Our first destination was the waterfall that's just off the west side of the main drive, which I understand is fairly dry much of the year, but is cascading most attractively during the spring melt. Actually, even the main drive itself has a lot of water flowing over it in spots. River Bend is a wonderfully wet place right now, as a severe winter's worth of snow melts and brings the land back to life.

After enjoying the waterfall, we headed down towards the river, which the waterfall's stream feeds into. On the way down, we saw four cedar waxwings in the tops of several nearby trees. I could barely tell what I was seeing as I took this photo (which has been cropped but is otherwise unedited), so I was pleased at how clearly it came out.

From a bench at this point, we looked down upon the river, which at River Bend is the Straight River, not the Cannon. We could see two young ladies playing around, and eventually we realized they were walking on and around huge slabs of broken-up ice that had come off the river.

We were soon to encounter many of these ourselves as we walked the Trout Lily trail around the east tip of the big bend in the river that gives the nature center its name.

There's my foot for size reference. These blocks were thick -- some of them as high as my knee.

I've seen ice breaking up in the Cannon River before, but never big slabs that had beached themselves like these. I was fascinated to see ice crystals seemingly calving off the big blocks like icebergs off glaciers. The crystals, or ice shards, ran vertically through the ice, rather than being in horizontal layers.

So on this lovely warm day, our focus ended up being on ice -- the paradox of a Minnesota spring.

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