Last Snowman, First Robin On Madison Isthmus

While out for a walk today I came across the perfect images of March.  The last snowman of the year—and looking its age—as it gazes out onto a frozen Lake Monona.  High in a tree that will cast a shadow in summer upon the space where a child made the snowman, a robin was perched with a welcome to spring. 

With the awful news from Eastern Europe, a thought came to mind as I took photos of the robin.  An aunt wrote this week a line that seems most appropriate at this time. “If we could be assured of everything as we are of the arrival of Spring what a wonderful world it would be.”

MUST SEE: Intense Tornado Video From Inside Iowa Car

THY most intense tornado video I have ever watched. This is something we can almost actually feel as the funnel lands, moves, whips, destroys. The footage is from this past weekend when a multi-vortex EF-4 tornado near Winterset, Iowa blasted its way across the land.

Madison Kites On Ice Recalled By Historic Facebook Page

For a number of years, there was a most remarkable event held in Madison during the coldest month of the year. The ice on Lake Monona would be frozen solid and scores of people would flock together, bundled for the January weather to enjoy ‘Kites On Ice”.

Today Historic Madison WI Photo Group on Facebook posted a photo of James Wilson and myself on the lake while thrilling to the sights and sounds. (And no, we are not the ones on strings!)

There was no way not to become a 7-year old when out on the ice with the colorful and huge array of kites flying about. And these were no ordinary kites!  From all over the world people would come to showcase their talents with the artistry of kiting. Inside the Monona Terrace, there would be workshops and chances to meet the talented ones who mastered what many of us as kids never did.

As I looked out at frozen Lake Monona today I thought how exciting it would be if the event were still a Madison moment about to happen.  There is enough ice for the whole event this year!  I am not sure as to the reason why the kiting event left the city.  Perhaps attempts to make it too big back-fired, or someone wanted too much money to host the event, or funding dried up.  Those are usually the reasons good things in the city disappear.

Those who recall the event can smile over the magic of the kites and the way January once was on the Madison isthmus.

Kids Of All Ages On Frozen Lake Monona

The first time this season James and I ventured onto frozen Lake Monona…WOW–fun!! I only had one lens for the camera so the pics here are not perfect with the light—but if they could smile like my face!! Pictured is an iceboat, the neighborhood as seen from the lake, the Capitol, along with the power of Mother Nature as it pushed at least foot thick slabs of ice about like potato chips on a plate. Be a kid like us in the wintertime, too.

New Doty Land Podcast: “Sure Does Feel Stormy Today”

Podcaster Gregory Humphrey goes back to childhood days in Hancock, Wisconsin to prove weather of all sorts should be viewed up close.  Nothing is better than grandma’s arm around a shoulder as the thunder crashes or as a boy walking into the bracing winds of a winter snowstorm.  Nostalgic warm memories for anyone wishing to trek back in time. (7 minutes)

Sparking Moments Of Joy And Remembrance During The Long Goodbye Doty Land

With contemporaneous accounts of smiles and trying times while dealing with a friend's  Alzheimer's disease come stories of laughter and also tenderness.  The final chapter of the life of Albert Trull, and the way it weaved with the personal life of podcaster Gregory Humphrey as his father was dying, makes for a somber podcast.  But one that is aimed to reach out and ask what role all can play with the elderly people needing friendship and companionship within our communities. 
  1. Sparking Moments Of Joy And Remembrance During The Long Goodbye
  2. Acting With Humanity In Time Of War Makes For New Film
  3. "Sure Does Feel Stormy Today"
  4. Tribute To Classic Country Music, WSM Radio, Grant Turner, And More!
  5. Hancock Boys Go To WWI

You can hear Doty Land and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartradio, Spotify, Castro, and many other sites.

Letter From Home “Snow Squalls” 11/12/21

Every year since we arrived at this home in 2007 there are certain traditions that are now part and parcel of our lives. We love to get the Adirondack chairs out as soon as the first hint of spring is in the air. Watching fireflies on a warm summer night with a cup of tea or watching heat lightning on the horizon is utterly relaxing. Raking leaves into piles just knowing there is one neighborhood kid who will take advantage of them before they are bagged.

And then there is the yearly event which occurred today.

It can be generally assumed that in the last days of October, into the first couple of weeks in November, a day will dawn downright chilly. The skies will be somewhat clear so that even though the sun shines brightly at times, clouds can also bank about in the sky. Across the lake, on the Madison isthmus, there will be a whitish-gray that slopes out of the sky and skirts across the gray cold water, and as it does so flakes of snow fall. As the flakes arc across the lake and then up over the shoreline and onto the rooftops and sidewalks the wind picks up and dances the white wonders in the air. In short order, the snow stops and the sun shines again.

There is no doubt about what is happening. The first snow squalls of the season have arrived.

This week, knowing the cold weather was planning its arrival I trimmed the rose bushes and cut the blooms that had sprouted over the past couple of weeks due to unusually warm weather. As I did the work on the bushes I smiled at the thought of allowing them to linger outside, with snowflakes settled upon the blooms. That would be just as Sonny James sang in his song When The Snow Is On The Roses.

I readily admit to a bittersweet feeling when putting the gardens to bed for the winter, storing rakes away, and bringing the snow shovels up from the basement to the outside shed. I love putting on shorts and colorful summer shirts while wearing sandals.

But that feeling fades when the sights of today come down from the clouds, crosses the lake, and the feel of the wind ramping up hits my face, as the flakes fall.

The Catalpa tree in our yard is the last of the season to release its leaves. During the recent brisk winds and rain, the large plate-size leaves pelted the house as they let go, allowing the winds to careen them through the air, making for a nice sound when they plunked on the siding. There was a nice-sized pile after I raked them today.

But as I bagged them, one of the squalls moved overhead. The little ice crystals tinged on my hat and dusted the tar pavement. It was perfectly timed. I cleaned up a few other items needing attention and went inside. After hanging my work jacket up, and my hat in its location I opened the back door to the kitchen.

James had shallots simmering in a frying pan for the start of our ham omelet lunch. I poured another cup of coffee to take off the outdoor chill.

The start of another winter is underway. And it feels good.

And so it goes.

“Icebergs Floated In The Gulf Of Mexico”

One of my reads this summer, that I am thoroughly enjoying, is The True Flag by Stephen Kinzer. There is no way to have predicted the reading of this book would be timed with the events playing out in Afghanistan.

At issue in the book, and in our daily newspapers, is a question that we never have resolved as a nation. How should the United States act on the world stage?

The book examines the events of 1898 and 1899, from Cuba to the Philippines, and points in-between as witnessed by the larger-than-life names of the time. With detailed writing that illuminates the intensity and convictions of both sides in this most consequential time for the nation, the book is both a story of the past and a lesson book for the future.

Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst were most earnest about expanding the scope and power of our nation. Meanwhile, Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie urged restraint in the lust for new lands and international intrigue. The same roiling arguments then over events around the globe are of the same order to the ones still driving us towards foreign wars in a desire to deposing governments. As in Afghanistan, while we retreat—but history proves this cycle of international involvement never ends.

Kinzer writes with the aid of old newspapers and Senate journals and has created a most remarkable account of how this aspect of our nation started with our war against Spain.

Today I am reading about the vote in the Senate regarding the Philippines, during February 1989, when this description of the weather in Washington, D.C. was presented.

I love history, there is no doubt. But I also am most fond of weather phenomena and find the events that were the greatest, biggest, worst, coldest, or hottest most worthy to further investigate.

As with the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899.

The Great Arctic Outbreak didn’t just bring cold to the nation. It also brought snow and ice and lots of it. By the time blizzard conditions ceased in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, Cape May, New Jersey, record over 30 inches of snow, as did Washington, DC, and Baltimore, Maryland. On February 17, ice was even witnessed flowing down the Mississippi River, past New Orleans, and into the Gulf of Mexico. And, a one-inch thick layer of ice formed at the mouth of the Mississippi in East and Garden Island Bays in Louisiana.

Over 100 people were estimated to have lost their lives during to the Great Arctic Outbreak. The outbreak damaged or destroyed numerous crops, and countless livestock perished. In Georgia, many orchards of young trees were killed outright, and farmers had to completely replant them. Ice in the Mississippi River and Great Lakes completely halted barge traffic. The cold, snow, and ice also heavily damaged buildings and infrastructure across much of the country.

I continually find the best books are the ones that open still more doors with questions or curiosities. Score a solid win for The True Flag as Kinzer recognizes the present in the past. And is most capable of conveying the lessons of history we need to know as we move forward.

And so it goes.

Madison Tornado: Seven Years Ago Today

Seven years ago tonight a tornado crossed from Park Street, across Lake Monona, and slammed the Madison isthmus. The storm would be labeled as a F1. We like to think we are strong and in control of all things. Then we are reminded of real power in the hands of something else.

Early that morning I started my venture around the neighborhood with camera in hand. As one might expect there were many people out looking at the debris from the storm. I was struck at various places by things such as metal siding literally wrapped in a circle around a light pole, or a sailboat upside down in Lake Monona, a playground set under a huge tree that had blown down, or streets blocked to traffic from the massive uprooted trees lying about as if they were matchsticks flung about for fun.

Many of the people I talked with spoke about a noise–a large rumbling noise–that came moments before the wind. Some people went to their basements, but most I talked with were watching the weather reports on TV and spent the storm in their living rooms. One man I spoke with slept through it, and one woman gasped as I passed her house and she was first looking out at the scene in her robe and slippers while walking down her steps.

“This is so sad,” she said and covered her mouth with a hand. “Lots to clean up but lots to be grateful for too as we take note of the most important fact that no one was hurt.”

I recall arriving back home and giving a most detailed account on the telephone to Aunt Evie, who lived in Hancock, Wisconsin. She had not heard of the news and I was more than able to be her on-the-spot reporter. And we had much to see from our home!

B. B. Clarke Beach was hit with rugged winds which resulted in five trees down and close to 15 canoes and such watercraft on rental slots all gone, as well as the metal rental units themselves. After the storm, James and I took a 45-minute walk around the larger area, getting home at 1:30 A.M and being thoroughly soaked.  The trees in some cases at the park were cork-screwed out of the dirt, with the heavy metal sign anchored to a concrete base at the entrance to the park popped out of the ground.

Earlier that night I had been watching the weather, as I have an interest in such things, but James was starting to sleep.  I heard the roar (about 12:20 ) as I was looking out from our home. In fact, I had set the rocking chair set up so I could watch the lightning from the windows.  But then the winds started and I yelled for James and as he started coming from the bedroom I saw the whirling multi-colored display of a power line let go. I grabbed James and pulled him down on the floor under a wooden door frame.

Then the tornado had passed. In seconds.

In a few minutes, James had his shoes on first and went outside to pull some branches that were clogging the street drains so water could flow. I soon followed as we looked at our home which, thankfully, suffered no damage.