As a summer resident of the Island, I spend nine months in Eau Claire,WI dreaming of the warm months when I can pack up our family and return to Madeline. We are fortunate enough to be able to work from the island in the summer and our kids live what I consider a very unique existence exploring the beauty of Lake Superior. We bike and walk everywhere and spend many days out on the nature trails and parks swimming and kayaking.
However, the winter months on the Island hold their own . It's a different kind of beauty. Without the tourists it is serene and quiet. But we find on our few trips there that the residents of the island find opportunities to connect with and support each other, either over a cup of joe at the the Mission Hill Coffee House or at St John's church. Madeline Island is also known for its artistic edge and throughout the winter residents spend time at Woods Hall creating beautiful woven wool rugs and pottery.
We don't get up there as often as we would like between very busy work schedules and winter sports for our kids. But I was thrilled to see an article in Lake Superior Magazine highlighting the winter life of the island residents. I'm pretty sure they get the question, "what do you do in the winter months?" quite a bit all summer so I was pleased for them that it was laid out in this article for all to read.
Of particular interest is their mode of travel back and forth to the mainland when Lake Superior freezes over. For a while they use windsleds, boats powered by large fans, which can travel on both ice and water. Once the lake is completely frozen, an ice road is created. Drivers can come and go as they please traveling the two mile Christmas tree lined trail checked daily for safety and ice strength. I have to admit driving my fairly large SUV on Lake Superior in the winter, four kids and two dogs in tow was for me a nail biter. And yet, I understand for the residents of the island it offers a sense of freedom that they cherish. Long live the ice road.
As for now, I will continue to dream of the upcoming summer months when I will hike, bike, and kayak with my family and teach yoga at the beautiful Lightkeeper's Lodge. This year's newest venture Madeline Island Yoga Retreats already promises to be more of an adventure than work. Can't wait.