A furry red creature has taken up residence in our backyard. Our dog was the first to discover our new neighbor while searching the backyard for a place to transact his business. Riley stumbled upon the scent and tracks of an animal leading into a large brush pile on the edge of our yard, showing the excitement you might expect in finding a distant relative.
Outside the entrance to the den, a smooth indentation lined with red fur lay atop a snow bank; a front porch from which our visitor could survey her new neighborhood. The mystery was solved when my wife saw and photographed a red fox trotting up our driveway like a neighbor coming for dinner.
A case of shyness has set in, for we have not seen her since. Aside from tracks found in fresh snow or an occasional flash from our motion sensor light, she remains aloof. Given the wintry weather, she has made herself scarce, preferring the comforts of her new log-pile home.
Winter seems unending. Along ridge roads exposed to crosswinds, snow drifts replace hilltops as the new horizon. Rivers take on a different dimension during the winter. Sealed with ice and capped with snow, they stretch the valley floor from bluff to bluff like a desert painted white.
Driftless Wisconsin offers relief from winter’s doldrums. The brush strokes of snow and ice create landscapes worthy of any photographer’s lens. The beauty of the land will warm the hearts of any traveler seeking to ward off winter’s chill.
Those looking for indoor refuge will not be disappointed. Our state and federal parks and attractions are open for the winter and offer exceptional educational programming. Just across that white desert we call the Mississippi River, Effigy Mounds National Park presents their annual Winter Film Festival from January 4 to March 31. Upcoming topics include, “Untamed America: Forests” and “Wild America: Deadly Beauty.”
On March 8, the Kickapoo Valley Reserve near La Farge is offering “Creative Communities Art Demonstrations & Sale,” a day of “viewing and discussing art with a wide range of talented area artists.” Then on March 22, learn and listen to “The call of the frog,” a program that explores the exotic language of 12 Wisconsin frogs.
In Prairie du Chien, the famed Villa Louis Historic Site, the Victorian home of the Dousman family during the 1800’s, is open for intimate viewings of the mansion. On March 21 – 22, “Villa Louis behind the scenes” will present visitors with an up-close perspective of living in the elegantly appointed mansion. And coming on April 26, the Villa will present “Breakfast in a Victorian Kitchen,” its popular series on the preparation of meals using period utensils and technology.
There are ways to shorten winter other than waiting for the groundhog’s forecast to play out. Like our red fox, you can sit on Driftless Wisconsin’s front porch and just take it all in.