Sooo cold. Fingers, toes, and face, numb.
Where the Mississippi River runs through Monticello, Minnesota, the water stays open even during coldest weather from the upstream nuclear power plant. When trumpeter swans were reintroduced there in 1986, Sheila Lawrence who lived nearby started a daily feeding ritual. What began as a few swans has turned into thousands. And what was once a few buckets worth of corn has become nearly a ton a day.
“The Swan Lady” passed away in 2011 but her husband continues the tradition. The area has become a mini park; a small lot between a couple houses, high above the feeding bank, fenced off so as not to disturb the birds below.
I arrived at the park before dawn to be ready for sunrise. The sky was perfectly clear and the mix of extreme cold air and relatively warm water was creating massive billows of mist. Combined with the high winds, it looked like an armada of clouds was blowing down the Mississippi.
There’s nothing better than swans floating through the mist in beautiful morning light.
I shot until I ran out of memory and the golden hour light was gone, along with my last reserves of body heat.
Headed back to the hotel to download and thaw.