Winter Wonderland in the Shawnee Hills

A.S. – After Snow

- by Gary Marks

Was it all a dream?  Was a winter veil thrown across my sleep-deprived eyes?  Sitting here well over a week after the last snow event, one wonders.  That wondering stops though as the computer cycles through photographs and the reality of it all sinks in.

As the snow is thawing and only piles of white memories remain, we look back and remember that occasionally the proof of winter does come to Southern Illinois and the Shawnee Hills.

Snowy Pine - Shawnee National Forest

Snowy Cedar

 Blizzard Warning!

Winds howled through cracks of the century old farm house, reminding me that not all shelters are air-tight.  Christmas was coming to an end  and all the guests had left, scurrying to get home before “it” hit.  White flakes lightly dusted the patio as a single porch light lit up the night sky.  It was here and it would be a white Christmas.

Covering up with several blankets, the eyes of photographer drifted away into a dreamworld while nature was doing its work outside.  As day broke, the enormity of situation came into focus.  Walking in a winter wonderland was no longer just the name of a song, it was something to be experienced.

Around a foot of snow rested upon the previously empty landscape.  Moving in the snow became a rigorous workout that demanded extra calories.  The snow was deep, but there was something missing.  It would be only a few days afterwards that that something would reveal itself.

It Came In The Night

Several days later the weather station called for more snow, but this time it would only be 2-4 inches and more importantly the winds would be light.  Friday night after most of Southern Illinois had finished digging out and was returning to normal, a slowly falling snow begun adding to the foot already on the ground.

I awoke early that Saturday morning, almost like a kid on Christmas day.  Looking out the window it was hard to tell what had occured, daylight was still an hour away.  Opening the window, I looked out, and whiteness was clinging to the branches.

Layers of clothes were piled on.  The fresh powder covered the footprints of the previous snow.  Boots made crunching sounds as they penetrated the fresh snow and dug into the earlier snow.  Work would be calling in about three hours, so time was limited.  The cedar trees around our farm were drooping from the weight of the snow, so my knees pumped through the white blanket towards the winter landscape.

Wow!   It felt like we had been transported to one of the “big winter” states, such as Colorado, but the beauty of it was that this was in our own backyard. A backyard that rarely looks like this.

Lincoln Memorial Park - Jonesboro, IL

 

Where To?

The time went quickly and soon the truck was pulling into work.  As a photographer it tore me up inside to be confined to work, but obligations require responsibilities.  Lunch hour came and escape for that short time came to mind, but where would be close enough?

Lincoln Memorial Park came to forefront. Having never photographed there before it was uncertain what the scenery would look like, but the distance was appropriate.  Winter clothes were piled back on.  Thankfully, the park gate was open and soon the shooting commenced.  This place was awesome.  The pavillions, shelters, and split-rail fence were golden.  The thought that several thousand people lived close by and were not taking part in this beauty was crazy, but knowing the place was all to myself was a treasure that was not wasted.

Soon the truck door slammed and the obligation of work was once again upon me. The only hope was that the wind would not blow and that it would remain cold enough so that the next day could be fully enjoyed.  The photographer in me knew that this type of snow may not happen again for another decade, so if the opportunity remained, it would be taken advantage of.

Lincoln Memorial Park - Jonesboro, IL

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About Gary Marks

Explore - Photograph - Live. Three words that describe my love of nature. These photos and articles are my small attempt to bring to others the great "undiscovered" beauty of Southern Illinois and beyond. It is my hope that you will view this website and leave with a better understanding of the area and will motivate you to get outside where ever you live and explore your own backyard.

Comments

  1. Phyllis Baggott says:

    Your winter images are beautifully perfect.

  2. Gary Marks says:

    Thank you Phyllis!