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Early Birds and Rainbow Ice

by Linda Jenkinson

Today was a beautiful sunny day, perfect for a road trip to LaCrosse. After a week long cold snap, the ice has melted from the roads and the snow is on the wane.

From Winona to LaCrosse is always a beautiful drive. In the fall, trees and shrubs that fill the bluffs, on both sides of the Mississippi River, explode with colors that range from yellow to rust, crimson to brick red. In the winter, on drivable days, sentinel-like trees gleam with frosted tops and the bluffs sparkle with icicles that freeze into giant sheets. Later in the winter those ice sheets leech minerals from the rock faces they cling to and turn into sparkling rainbows of frozen water. That's what we found today.

As a bonus, we watched two pairs of eagles soar and one eagle family, ma and pa with their yearling child. I'd forgotten how stately they look as they soar against a clear blue background. Perhaps they were looking for open water, anticipating the time when fresh fish is on the menu again.

On the way home, I spotted a single redwing blackbird. We wondered if he was lost. It's pretty early for their arrival since the reeds and wetlands they nest in are still frozen.

My neighbor saw a robin the other day. Silly birds. Robins just never learn that the early bird in Minnesota doesn't get the worm because the worms are still frozen underground. Still, sightings of songbirds like robins, redwing blackbirds, and eagles looking for open water are sure signs that spring is on its way. I have my fingers crossed.