Going Through the Seasons with Will

As the falling snow continues during this long winter season, it is an excellent escape to be reading observations of the changing seasons that Will recorded in his journals. Since the topic of snow has dominated what most people have been thinking, reading and hearing about for the past couple months, I thought I would share a sample of all the seasons that Will observed in Ely through the years. Also remember to enjoy this winter season because spring will come sooner than you think. Will concluded his entries in March 1972 with this thought: “I can’t believe spring is almost here. Winter seemed so long, yet so short. And time passes on…”

October 1, 1971
In the middle of the night yesterday it was 70° and a warm, humid wind was blowing…The brilliant colors are through, but I’m not devaluing the beautiful yellow of the birch and aspen. Yesterday hard, heavy rain and wind knocked down most of the orange and red leaves (mostly maple) to the ground. The forest floor is so Fall_resizecolorful. With the heavy moisture lately we may have a good mushroom fall if it doesn’t freeze too hard.

January 25-27, 1977
For the past 2 days the winds have been intensely strong, day and night, with sub-zero temperatures: highs of -10°, lows of -30°. The sky has been hazy with blowing light snow from the Northwest…With proper dress, diet and a comfortable place to sleep, these arctic storms are exhilarating…The key is to be comfortable in order to relax and take in what is actually happening: the raw nature that is experienced, the sting of the wind on hands and nose, the freshness of the air, the beauty of the sky and land forms in such weather, the milky, heatless appearance of the sun, the moon’s halo in cold, windy light.

February 22, 1977
Feeling of moisture in the air, senses are keen in picking this up after many months of dry cold…Presently, tonight, the wind blows from the South, stars shining, warm (15°) outside. Thoughts turn towards the gardens, green fields, light. The first realization that winter is almost over…you enjoyed the fight, but it is easy to give in to the longer days and the return of the sun’s heat. The blue sky, South wind, smell of moisture, altocumulus (not a cold weather cloud), the reviving of the senses, the awakening, flashbacks of youth, the sun is returning, the winter lifts, loses its strength, its grip, it will return, but never as strong for the sun is getting higher, rising more towards the east, setting toward due west, the season is progressing, Orion moves to the west. Sirius dominates the sky, Leo rising higher each night.

July 24, 1979
Mid-summer lushness, the forest and cleared areas are like jungles…True of this time of year is the hot weather (temperatures in the 80s) and occasional thunderstorms. The lake is warm…The mid-summer nights are unsurpassed for peace and serenity. Birds singing in evening and especially in early morning…The birds seem to sing most after rains especially when the sun is just peaking through the clouds.

Check out our lesson on journalling that highlights Will’s journals, as well as other Minnesotans throughout history.


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