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Another Mighty Midwestern Winter

Another Mighty Midwestern Winter

Cold-hearted beauty

When first snow fell in November Winter said, “Four months, maybe five and it’s over.” We’re saying, “About time!” Weeks of deep cold, painful cold, frost on the windows and ice on the walks, Midwestern winter be gone!


Another mighty Midwestern winter and still below zero

By mid-February the first crocuses should poke through mulch where earliest sunrays fall, but not this year. Twenty-four below zero one night, nineteen below the next. Last night it was minus nine Farenheit, warmer than four other nights this week but bone-chilling for sure. This is the Midwest after all. We’re used to it. We have the clothes for it. Long-johns under dresses and layers five sweaters deep.


Road salt camouflage

Yesterday I stopped at the carwash to see if there was still a white car underneath the grey road salt and brown sand. Then I drove home at twenty miles an hour to keep it clean for one day longer–in vain.


Spring, where are you?

Somewhere in the mid-South, Spring is making first feints, getting ready to move north along the rivers and plains, spreading life-giving warmth into Wisconsin and Minnesota. While we’ve been distracted by Midwestern winter, the sun is growing stronger and the days are measurably longer. Perhaps we’re tougher now than in November but it does seem a little warmer. Finally!

Oh winter, you are beautiful and mighty! Go now and leave us memories of your loveliness to cool us through the heat of summer.

A NOTE: What inspired this reverie? Nightly news from New York City spends a great deal of time bemoaning winter. TV meteorologists exaggerate normal winter weather as if a mighty winter is intentional abuse from Mother Nature. In the Midwest we endure the worst while New Yorkers whine. Weather is weather. Get over it! Be strong. Embrace the beauty. It’s good for you!


I recently rediscovered a small handful of photographs that show small town, Midwestern hospitality at its best. Lanesboro is in bluff country inland from the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Minnesota. Known for many Victorian and Edwardian homes converted to bed and breakfast use, the town treats its many visitors in such a way that they want to return and urge their friends to come too! In addition to the Opalotype bicycle outside the Arts Center posted here on February 27th, here are another three images. My wish is that, whether here or elsewhere, you too may find a restful haven of goodwill and generosity.

First is the side of a warehouse on a bluff above the Root River with an amazing, sliding door that rolls on a heavy iron rail above the lintel. Decorated with ivy that’s turning red-gold with the season, the door and the brick wall look well together in matching shades. An old reel mower still gives good service reminding me of the one my father pushed as he crisscrossed our yard in a neighboring Midwestern state. Focal length: 28.0 mm; 1/60 sec; f/5.6; ISO 400

Lanesboro, Minnesota where everything may not be old but it

Lanesboro, Minnesota where everything may not be old but it’s the town’s calling to evoque antique charm. To the right is excellent food at Spud Boy Diner, the third photo in this post.

Next is the old railroad trestle on the southwest corner of town. Where Milwaukee Road–Iowa & Southern Minnesota Division–trains once carried grain from the prairies, it’s now part of the Root River State Trail, an expansive pedestrian and bike trail that connects several picturesque towns in the valley. Focal length: 17.0 mm; 1/125 sec with the camera braced against the far rail and a vertical timber; f/5.6; ISO 400; AEB-Aperture Priority; Evaluative metering

Railroad bridge over the Root River

Spread along the banks of the Root River, the small town of Lanesboro is picturesque and inviting.

Last up is the Spud Boy Diner believed to have been built in the mid-1920s by the Goodell Dining Car Company at 30 Main Street, Silver Creek, NY where: “Quality Dining Cars [are] built of the best, latest equipment and fully complete; Sold on easy terms $4,750” It spent the next 75 years as a popular, trackside eatery in Wellington, Ohio. Turns out there’s a lot of history at Spud Boy! A most interesting part was the restoration by new owner, Gordon Tindall, over more than five years, inspired by a group of devoted diner connoisseurs, and supported in part by private donations and the American Diner Museum.

If you want to read the history and see photos of the restoration process, take a look at http://www.nydiners.com/cecilmove.html. The superbly renovated Spud Boy Diner opened for business in Lanesboro in the late spring of 2012; to find them and see what’s on the menu, check the Spud Boy Diner website at: http://spud.nydiners.com/ Focal length: 17.0 mm; 1/45 sec; f/5.6;ISO 400; Aperture Priority; Evaluative metering

Spud Boy Diner

Located next to the first photograph in this post, the 1920s Spud Boy Diner is at 105-3/4 Parkway Avenue North, where there’s “Booth Service for Ladies”

Historic Lanesboro

We’ve had feet of snowfall and icy cold for so long that it feels like a good time to warm up with thoughts of coming spring. Most of our Midwestern winter was spent indoors at the computer. In early January a Trojan virus hacked my firewall and opened the door to a new Exploit virus with full privileges granted to a hidden Administrator. Cleverly it looked like firewall protection was on and I was still in control–not so! Ultimately a hard reformat was the only option. On the way to that reluctant conclusion I learned to rewrite a registry and was reminded yet again that no education is ever truly free. I have a cast of helpful new friends around the globe, a fullsome respect for bleepingcomputer.com, and will be forever grateful that I keep backups current.

I’ve missed my Light Pixie alias and have big plans to post new work, including long neglected portfolio items forgotten in the busy pace of family life and creative work. Here is a first installment from a lovely, romantic autumn day in historic Lanesboro which calls itself the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota. It’s a small town that straddles the Root River in the southeastern corner of the state and it welcomes tourists to cozy Victorian rooms, quaint shops and good food. On any normal, good weather day in all seasons, main street, quiet neighborhoods, and woodland trails will be filled with strolling couples, hiking and biking families, geocaching singles, cross-country skiers, the active and the sedentary. From the Stone Mill to the railroad bridge and everything in between and beyond will be the subject of countless vacation photos. Seats in the old St. Mane and Commonweal Theaters will be filled, as will the many shops, galleries, studios, and museums.

This was shot along Parkway Avenue outside the Lanesboro Arts Center in late October 2011, definitely heavy sweater weather. The English ivy was already tinged with frost dried leaves. The bicycle’s basket had been relieved of its summertime flowers and the wrought iron bench beyond was empty. My lens had a new 8x neutral density filter plus a UV protective filter; I’d chosen a longer exposure than the light required. The combination of old Lanesboro and the over-exposed image reminded me of an opalotype photograph printed on translucent white glass enhanced with pale, hand-tinted colors. It seemed tender and delicate like the day. Also called a milk-glass positive, opalotypes are a remnant technique, rare even from the mid-1880s when patented by Glover and Bold in Liverpool, England. My homage is not a true opalotype and was adjusted slightly in post-production. Expect to see more from historic Lanesboro in the coming days! Now available in a new Bluff Country post here:

Lens: EF-S17-85mm f/4.o IS USM; Focal Length: 24.0 mm; Exposure: 1/15 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200