By John Holbrook

(This new monthly series is dedicated to those who live elsewhere but have always wondered what it is like living at Lake Hubert during the winter)


Autumn is by far the most beautiful season on Lake Hubert. Our many birch and aspen trees splash their vivid fall colors against the deep green of our pine and fir evergreens. The sky takes on a special deep blue due to the low angle of the sun and the lake is especially clear because of the lack of algae caused by the much colder water compared to summer. The air is bracingly clean and invigorating. Usually, those of us who are here all year long will take every excuse to get outside and enjoy what is clearly a short and ephemeral time.

So, when does autumn really end? Those who live on the temperate east or west coast, or down south would claim on December 21st. At our latitude, it is NOT on December 21st as the astronomical calendar would state. Minnesota, obviously, is far different. Autumn can end in a variety of ways but certainly, and always, fall is over by mid-November.

Most years the end of autumn is a gradual process starting in mid-October and lasting until early November. In these years, the days grow progressively colder, almost on a predictable and expected basis, and the first snows begin leaving their traces on almost a regular basis shortly after Halloween. However, some years can be significantly different where fall will linger on as gently as a summer sunset, seemingly promising us a reprieve of time that is in reality as fleeting as life itself.

This year the transition from autumn to winter came in just one day. All October, and nearly the first two weeks of November, saw in some cases, record warm days. The first frosts didn’t occur until late October and even these weren’t the hard killing types, but instead, just enough ice to barely coat windshields and lawns. The lack of harsh north winds allowed Lake Hubert to take on a special beauty as often the water was a perfect reflection of clouds and sky, or better yet, the light from a huge harvest moon.

Even so, this mellow time couldn’t last forever and our transition from fall to winter occurred on just one day, Saturday, November 12th.  The morning started as Shakespeare might have noted with “dawn’s envious streaks lacing the clouds of yonder east” but by noon those clouds had thickened to a gunmetal gray and shortly after noon, a hard driving rain began falling. By nightfall, the wind was howling to over 30 mph sending a constant moan through the pine trees while barren birch branches scraped against the side of the house. Morning brought the first real snowfall and temperatures not experienced since early spring. The first significant wind chill of the season sliced through our light clothing and it actually took several miles before the car could warm up on the way to town.

This week, accumulating snow is predicted and some days won’t even get above freezing. It is time to bring firewood into the shed, time to check if the snowblower still works, time to find the winter boots and gloves.

Indeed, autumn is now over.

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