This is a unique time of year. A time when most of Erie County has been covered with snow at least once, yet, until now, Presque Isle is still wearing only its late autumn browns and
grays. It is Sunday December 17 and just 8 a.m. in the morning when I reach the bottom of peninsula hill. A soft and tantalizing snow is falling on my windshield when I enter Presque Isle Park. The very first thing I notice is the pen and ink appearance of the dark bare trees locked in a white shroud of fresh snow. The sky over the bay is luminous and still slightly painted with this morning’s sunrise.
The snowflakes drifting down are more than flurries, yet less than a storm. With the temperature flirting with 30 degrees, the snow is wet, heavy and sticking to everything. Snow accumulates on the bushes, tree branches, painting the ground with a picture-perfect coating of white. The wind is still, so the huge flakes fall straight down. They look almost like feathers from a down pillow which has just been given a firm shake.
I am one who has an aversion to cold winter days. A warm fireplace is more to my liking. Having said that, I still seek out the pure magic that winter brings to Presque Isle. This is especially true for the times when snow is new and freshly fallen, like this morning. With weather like this and this type of snow, all parts of the park are accessible for hiking and walking. Visitors need to understand they need to dress for the winds and cold weather. Hats, gloves, boots and warm coats become the order of the day. After all, this is Erie. If you live here, you should have learned by now that it really is not that bad.
In the winter, to me, this falling of new snow is critically important for a number of reasons. Of course, it is picturesque; however, I think it also brings a sort of crisp sparkle to the air. I don’t know for sure, but maybe the big flakes clean the air as they fall. When this moist snow covers everything in sight, a whole new world mystically
appears. Now if you have your camera, it is time to get shooting. As you might guess, all this white is going to make you relearn how to shoot the landscape. I will write more on this in January. In addition, animal footprints can now be easily seen in the snow. If you do not know your animal tracks, pick up a copy of my book, “A Walk on the Park”, in the book, there are many sketches of the various footprints that can be seen on Presque Isle.
I have found that many visitors to Presque Isle at other times during the year have it ingrained in their heads that the park is dull and desolate when winter’s winds and snow arrive. I have been told by some that they believe it is a time of death, black and white and dormancy. Therefore, when the sun, which is now low in the sky, turns the ice dunes on the lake a glistening blue, or a sunrise surges over the bay ice with a fiery appearance, they are shocked at how “color” attracts them to the scene. Winter sunrise or sunset walks on Presque Isle can be pure heaven.
Oftentimes park visitors just sort of visualize a dark and boring landscape in the winter. However, once you get familiar with visits in the cold weather, you will find that it can be as beautiful and interesting as any other season. Presque Isle is “A Place for All Seasons.” As we move into winter weather, may I invite you to bundle up and take “A Walk on the Park”.
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