While caves in limestone areas are often graced with stalactites and stalagmites, the almost-caves under the limestone shorelines of Lake Mendota are adorned with look-alike formations at this time. Stalactites dripping in limestone caves are deposits of minerals, mainly calcite dissolved in rainwater seeping through the sedimentary rock. The stalactites and stalagmites observed at Raymer's Cove this early January are mere frozen water, they are icicles. With strong west winds and higher waves as well as rainwater penetrating the cliffs along the shoreline and seeping downward, these icicles form along Lake Mendota's shoreline when the air temperature is below freezing while the lake is still open. The fantastical ice creations of sheer beauty are enjoyed by visitors to the Preserve at Raymer's Cove, as well as along the path to Picnic Point at the narrows by fireplace #3, and also along Howard Temin Lakeshore Path past the boat landing at lot 60. Galen Hasler sent these photos. Thank you Galen.
The New Year brought a most beautiful snowfall to the Preserve and the city. With no wind, the fluffy tufts of snow are clinging to trees and berries in fantastical ways. Come and see for yourself—enjoy a walk to Picnic Point. At the beginning of the path, on the side of the cattails toward the bay, you will spot the American Cranberry bush, tall and upright, the only bush that still carries berries. They are absolutely sour, and the birds won't eat them until nothing else is left. But they are nutritional....people would add loads of sugar if they made jelly from these berries.
Once you have crossed the meadow, you enter a kind of snow cathedral walk, inviting awe, beneath the snow laden ashes and hickories, until the path broadens at Fireplace #2. Here you will enjoy the view across the bay and the bugling calls and hoo-ho-hoos of the tundra swans along the edge of the lake ice forming from the shoreline. And when you arrive at the Point and look backward, you might see the sun close to the horizon, much more south than west, seemingly setting all day long in the midst of winter. Thank you, Galen Hasler, for capturing this precious scenery for us. A great beginning for a new year.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors