Dead trees and a frozen lake on a pastel winter day.

A line of dead trees and the grip of frozen floodwater at the Crystal Lake Wildlife Area of Lodi, WI, USA, found shortly after Willing and The Same Mistakes. Behind this scene, the road curved against the woods, carried straight for roughly a quarter mile, and curved again behind the treeline. Most of the ice fishers were packing up around this time, and the only other person I saw was a lone figure walking their dog.

I rendered this scene and carried on, and came to the first bend of this road with the reluctant acknowledgment that there wasn’t enough light to keep working. The distant figure noticed me and turned around, and vanished around the distant bend while I searched for the day’s last scene. Finding nothing but silence and cold, I used the remaining light to head back.

I’d never been to the Crystal Lake Wildlife Area before, but knew it suffered from the same flooding issues that I detailed in Washed Away and Few Ways Forward. While I enjoyed the solitude and lack of distractions, the mostly vacant preserve brought little comfort, and seemed incapable of fostering connection. The distant person was quick to retreat from sight, and I didn’t blame them. Abandonment and resignation, far beyond the approaching dusk of any lonely winter day, filled the land. With no apparent routes into the woods, the open road made any traveler focused on the thin path between land and water, a passage that would narrow with the coming thaw, and narrow further in the years ahead. The forsaken road demanded recognition for these trees, which I had no trouble believing were once far inland.

I wondered how many years would pass before the road was overtaken. I wouldn’t mind that so much, but am certain the water would rise far beyond that.

Pentax 67
SMC Pentax 45mm f/4
Kodak Ektar – ISO 100