Winter Bliss

With our chilly winters and unreliable weather here in Southeastern MN and Southwestern WI, I still am proud to call this place my home.  I have been known to call my mother as the burning, frigid air passes through my nostrils while I am cleaning off my car after a fresh snow and ask, “Why would you raise a family in this state with this kind of weather?”   Truth be told, I love the four seasons.  I love the angle of the light in Winter, the green tip of the Tulip as at it pushes through the winter residue in Spring, the green, green, greenness of this land in Summer, and the beautiful array of color that Autumn can bring.  All seasons inspire me and continue to keep me here.

Sometimes the cold can force the body indoors and push you towards hibernation, just ask any Grizzly bear in the Northern Hemisphere.  However, Dan and I will still venture out and capture what we see in this amazing state.  Winter can add a spotlight to an item that is otherwise obscured in the thickness of the forest.  Please enjoy the images from this unseasonably warm Winter day as we traveled through rolling hills and farmland into the area of Augusta, WI.

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When the School Bell Rang

The first time seeing this one room schoolhouse along side a country road near the small town of Elgin, in southern Minnesota, was exciting to say the least.  As we got out of the car and walked closer to the shell of this former schoolhouse, I could almost hear the chalk as it slid across the black board or the children that used to learn under her roof.  The images in this post are from the two times we have visited this little gem at two very different times of the year.

This old schoolhouse reminded me not only of the children that walked through the door, but also of the teachers that encouraged these students daily to learn and grow.

I would like to take the time to thank every teacher I have had the privilege of learning from.  My fourth grade math teacher that pushed me to apply myself to the schoolwork when I didn’t want to because he knew that I could… and I did.  To my Chemistry teacher in college that made learning the subject so fun that I completely understood, without even trying.  Math and Science is now one of my strong points, Thank you.

To all the teachers out there, I thank you for your time and dedication you put forth on a day-to-day basis…  Keep believing in all of your students and they will believe in themselves.

Within the clouds

Fog:

A collection of liquid water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth’s surface. While fog is a type of stratus cloud, the term “fog” is typically distinguished from the more generic term “cloud” in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally.  Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility.  Fog reduces visibility to below 1 km (5/8 statue mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km.

Wikipedia

The sensation that fog or any condensation adds to photography is one of mystery, one of magic.  The eeriness that those little water droplets can add to a scene may bring forth visions of fantasy.  What lies within the clouds?  The way that light intertwines with moisture in the air adds to the atmosphere of the landscape. Not only are you mystified by what lies behind the curtain, the mist can add the feeling of surprise, fear and admiration.

We had a few days when the fog stayed with us until the late afternoon- a rarity in our parts. We were lucky to be out in countryside on these days traveling the back-roads of Southeastern Minnesota lucky that we could share this abnormality together.  Next time the fog rolls into your area, grab your camera, and capture the light that dances gracefully with the water droplets.  Be quick though, the fog can form and then dissipate just as fast.

“Come, follow me” said the goat.

Seeing, to me, is sometimes simply viewing life through my camera’s viewfinder.

If Dan and I have a few hours to spare, we will pack up the car and spend a fun filled day driving the backroads of the beautiful bluff country in Southeastern , MN.  From a run in with an abandoned farmstead, or stumbling upon a collection on an ever spinning reel.  Maybe it is seeing the magic of the sun as the light shines through the branches of the swaying trees in the woods of this area, or a surprise run in with the friendliest goat you have ever seen.  No matter what, we can drive the backroads of Minnesota and Wisconsin daily and always see something new.

Along one of these roads we saw the sun hit a horse’s mane as it was standing in the pasture, so we stopped and got out of the car to photograph the sight.  To our surprise, a goat walked right under the fence and gave us a friendly look as if to whisper “Come follow me”.  He was a character alright and was very interested in what we may of had to offer him.   Yep, this day was another photography outing to go down in the record books.

A restored 1800’s village, tubers, and a Amish Community.

While some of the group from the Red Wing Photography Club was well underground touring Mystery Cave, Jeff, Dan and I were traipsing through the back roads of Southeastern MN.  After the groups photography tour of Mystery Cave, we met up above ground and proceeded to our next stop… Historic Forestville.  This restored 1800’s village is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society and has some great photo opportunities.

Lunch time 🙂 A stop in Lanesboro, MN was needed to fuel our bodies and of course to photograph the surroundings…  A hidden treasure, this small town is nestled in the Bluffs of the Root River Valley and offers that hometown appeal with spectacular views.  A must stop if ever in the area.

As Dan and I broke away from the group and made our way back home, we ran into many interesting sites and an Amish community.  I still remember us driving down a dirt road when, off in the distance,  we noticed two horses and their riders headed our way.  The car slowed and eventually came to a rolling stop as the riders approached.   The riders, probably brothers, one on a horse and the other on a pony, were Amish boys.  Both boys were waving “hello” and had a grin on their face from ear to ear as they came barreling past our stopped vehicle.  A site not captured on film but saved in the memory banks of our mind forever.   The friendliness and hard work of an Amish community will forever amaze me.

All and all, the day was filled with many surprises, laughter, and learning.   Thanks to Dan, Amy, Jeff, Kendall, Ken, and Linnae (friends and fellow members of the Red Wing Photography Club) for the great adventure!!  I hope to take part in many more group trips this year!

Weaver Bottoms

A group of photographers from the Red Wing Photography Club set out late last summer for a day of photography.  What better way to learn different techniques or aspects in photography, than to spend time with fellow photographers- How do they see the world through their view finders?

It was in the wee morning hours that Jeff Marcus, Dan, and I set out for our destination in Southeastern MN.  The morning arrived and the sky was changing to the color of lavender as the nighttime blue was mixing with the light of the sun; changing from dark blue, to light blue to lavender, and just as if that wasn’t enough- the sun peaked her head closer to the horizon and the pinks, oranges, and yellows came out to play.

LOCATION FOR THIS SUNRISE SHOOT: Weaver Bottoms off of Hwy 61 South of Wabasha, MN.
Located within the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, the Weaver Bottoms area is located just South of Wabasha, MN.   The area is a 5,500 acre habitat complex dominated by open water, but also includes flowing channels, backwater lakes, isolated wetlands, and forested islands. 

Turning onto County Rd 74 off of Hwy 61, in Weaver, MN was a great choice and a very well executed plan, organized by Dan (Thanks Honey for planning that route).  As the sun rose, we were graced by fog in the area; the valleys, wetlands, and forest floors along this road was dotted with a wispy white haze.  I believe fog or a misty morning adds mood to your surroundings; to watch the mist move and wonder what lies beneath is intriguing to say the least.  Fog can form suddenly, and can dissipate just as rapidly, so we found our way through this area and spent some quality time shooting the effects that fog can add to a photograph.

We were very lucky to be there, at that time, on that day.   We all enjoyed the travels through this area and were awe-stuck by the shadows created by fog.  Off to meet the rest of the Red Wing Photography Club Members (Amy, Linnae, Ken, and Kendall) already playing in their own play ground – Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.

The grinding continues… Schech’s Mill 2012

grist•mill (ˈgrɪstˌmɪl)
a mill, esp one equipped with large grinding stones for grinding grain.

This is one of the most memorable trips to date; a day of fun and adventure for us all.  Both of these mills were absolutely gorgeous and to see them work like how they did over 100 years ago was mind-blowing.

As we pulled up onto the property of Schech’s Mill, we were struck by the beauty of the buildings and scenery surrounding it.  Edward came out to greet us with his welcoming demeanor and ushered us inside the old mill.   He gave us a tour of the facility, showed us how the equipment worked and shared its amazing history.  Power for the mill came from three Leffel turbines and one Sampson turbine. The equipment included four run of 22” Diamond buhrstones, a roller mill, crusher, sheller, bolters, and related elevators.  Again, the powerful force that sent the machinery into motion caused a rumbling of the building was felt deep in our bones. What an honor to be able to step inside and see exactly how the gristmill worked its magic.  Most of the original equipment is still in use including the original millstone imported from France.  A lot of history to grasp, certainly not enough for one trip; Dan and I will be planning to return in the near future.  I recently used all of the Corn Meal on delicous homemade Corn Bread but I still have the wheat flour made from this mill today.  Tasty, tasty, tasty!!  With appreciation, I thank you Edward, for sharing a little part of history with us on that day.

Schech’s Mill History:

In 1876, John Blinn built a mill in one of the beautiful valleys of southeastern Minnesota. An article in an 1887 mill paper brought the mill to the attention of Michael Schech, a master miller who had immigrated from Bavaria and was employed at one of the large mills in Minneapolis. Schech purchased the mill which was operated by Schech’s brother until 1890 when Michael Schech relocated their family to their Beaver Creek Valley home in Houston County. The mill became known as Schech’s Mill.

When Michael retired in 1913, Edward took over the operation. In 1922, a concrete dam replaced the old wooden one and two years later a concrete water wheel pit was constructed. After Edward’s death in 1941, his wife continued operating the mill for the next five years.

In 1946, Edward’s daughter, Eleanor, and her husband Ivan took over all mill operations. Eleanor and Ivan’s son Edward began helping with operations in 1960. “Every September their son Edward would come over and help clean the mud from the turbine pit”, said Ivan.

Since Eleanor and Ivan’s death Edward and his wife Joanie have run the mill. Schech’s Mill was nominated for the National Registry of Historic Places in 1977. At that time it was the only mill in the state to contain unchanged, operable milling equipment and to have its original stone. It is one of only three mills in the state to operate solely on water power

Proprietor:      Edward Krugmire Call to schedule tour: 507-896-3481or 651-245-5566

Calendar:
OPEN:  May 1st – October 31, 2012   (closed Sept 22  & 23)
Friday    1:00pm – 6:00pm
Saturday 8:00am – 6:00pm
Sunday   8:00am – 6:00pm

Cost:   
Ages 6 – 15 $1.00
Over 15- $5.00
Under 6 free

Samples:                Whole Wheat Flour & Corn Meal