Welcome to Winter

A Wisconsin Winter Wonderland

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

Growing up in Northern Alberta, winter for me was hell. It was never regarded as a “winter wonderland”. Crowded blankets of empty white fields and crusted snow drifts that block doors and roads, stopping hopeful travelers in their path. It’s perpetually dripping noses, and skin frozen after mere minutes of exposure.

And most of all, it is the chill wind. That which cuts through layers of clothing like a hot knife through butter, that which viciously whips the snow and destroys all hope of visibility.

A cold winter morning

That’s what I grew up with. For at least half of every year, snow and arctic temperatures had me constantly dreaming of palm trees. When I was old enough to move on, every step I took away from home was directed south. There may be a lot of great things about living in northern Alberta, but for me, winter is not one of them. It’s brutal. It’s depressing. It’s seemingly unrelenting.

Jump forward many years and winter for us now is our preferred season. Growing up never would I have imagined that winter could actually be enjoyable. That if the cruel wind (characteristic of the Alberta prairie landscape) was taken away, the season takes on a whole new look of voluptuous snow flakes falling gently, where only slight breezes cause nothing more than a shimmer of crystals in the bright sun…

Winter for us is now special. Our most memorable hikes have been through feet of white fluffy powder to reach a summit. We’ve had cocktails from a glacier while winter camping in Patagonia. We have tried dog sledding in many different countries. We’ve curled on open air ice in the Swiss Alps. We found snow tubing in Wisconsin even if we did it in minus 40 weather. And we’ve skied at some of the top ski resorts in Alberta.

So, have you ever spent a winter in Winter? We have and we spent a few months in this winter wonderland. This small little spot in Wisconsin deservedly gets and can keep its name.

Welcome to Winter

Snow Ladders

Snow Clings on

See? No unsightly drifts, just a perfect blanket of white on our frozen lake, the only blemish being a set of deer tracks.

Tracks Across the Lake

Our Furry Friends

Pine Cone

Sun and Ice

Sun Through the Trees

Snow on the Lake

I still may not be the first person to run out and make snow angels or build forts, but I am grateful for these few months we spent in this pleasant Wisconsin winter wonderland.

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  1. I know winter can be brutal at some parts of the world, but that doesn’t deter me from dreaming to go someplace with snow, hopefully sooner than later. Having been living in a tropical country throughout my life so far, snow seems like a luxury. 🙂

    1. When we were in Argentina, we saw companies offering “touch the snow” tours to people in the mountains. We kinda laughed, saying we could offer people to come live with us and shovel our sidewalks! It can be a bit of a luxury as I’m not a fan of the extreme tropical heat either. I hope you get to play in snow someday! 🙂

  2. Beautiful images, though I definitely fall in the category of “Winter is best viewed from inside, preferably while sitting by the fire.”

  3. I grew up in Canada too and have always hated winter, but now that I live in North Carolina I have a new appreciation for snow and the calmness that falling snow brings. I miss it. Your photos are beautiful- I love the icicles!

    1. It would be fun to try it, at least! But there are some parts of Canada that are definitely worse than others. I grew up in one of the worse-r parts. 🙂

  4. I thought i was the only one who had a white vision of hell. You described it so eloquently ! Not convinced about the fact that winter can be pleasant in some parts of the world but ill take your word for it. ( I live in Northern Ontario:(

  5. Do it! When I lived in Montana I could rent xc skis, poles and boots for $15 per day (and an additional $5 disc if I kept them longer than one day) from any ski shop, even bicycle shops rented them.

    Then you hit the golf course or better yet, a forestry service road (they usually close these roads after Thanksgiving)

    That’s it. $15 for the entire day. No lines, no waiting, just you and dense nature under snow.

    You can easily You Tube a how to video for tips.

    Talk about a magical experience!

  6. I really hate winter! I would love to escape to somewhere warm every winter. It’s not happening this year, but hopefully Andy and I can arrange something in the future.

    Great pictures though, even if it was cold! Really gorgeous!

  7. Sooo pretty! I was just in Montreal and we had a huge snowfall. It made me fall in love with winter all over again, just like those photos!

    1. I haven’t been to Montreal in winter, but imagine it to be one of those places where the snow makes everything pretty. Must do it someday!

  8. Winter in real winter kinds of places can be so gorgeous. I grew up in the real thing in Chicago & still visit “winter” there and other places (including Wisconsin) often. It’s always nice to go back home to SF after a while, however. 🙂 Beautiful pics.

  9. I love Winter in Michigan. A long time ago, a friend told me that the best way to enjoy Winter is to get out in it, so that’s what I do. Hiking, ice climbing, skiing, even just walking to the mailbox to breathe in the fresh crisp air gives me energy. I’ve never been to Alberta though, so I will take your word that winters there are harsh and stay right here in Michigan!

  10. Absolutely love your photos! As a fellow Canadian, I am glad to say I have embraced winter for years, although I would never say no to a trip to warmer climes! 7 years in Australia were brilliant but did make me crave another white Christmas! Admittedly, winter in Ottawa is rarely as freezing and crazy as the prairies! We have too much fun stuff like skating at Winterlude, dog sledding and cross country skiing to keep us entertained!
    ps – if you were to offer a trip down south – I would have my bags packed so fast!!! hehehe – but I guess no one is offering so I will grab that extra sweater and get on with it!

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