It's February on the North Shore. While all the other lakes in Minnesota froze over in December, big deep Lake Superior had stayed open. For one below-zero morning after another, sea smoke rose from the open water.
In the last few days, winter cold finally has the lake in its grasp. What was open water two days ago off Duluth is now a vast field of ice. The satellite maps are showing a ring of ice 20 miles wide around the entire coast.
The good news is, the ice is beautiful. A few more cold days, and ice anglers will take the first tentative steps out, followed by skiers and skaters.
The bad news is, this will cut off lake-effect snow on both the south and north shores. No open water means no evaporation, and no evaporation means no piles of yummy snow.
This morning, the vast ice sheet was not quite frozen in place. Waves from somewhere far away were still moving the ice and grinding it quite slowly against the shore.
But it was freezing.
Even the poodle, normally frenetic when she's offleash on the beach, froze for a moment:
It gives me a kick to see how big deep Lake Superior fights off the freeze for all those months. But nature eventually wins, and the lake begins to freeze.