Every year around this time, Lake Winnebago, presumably as annoyed with the lingering winter as the rest of us, heaves up its ice and hurls it toward shore.
The resulting ice shoves, like almost everything associated with Wisconsin’s largest lake, can be both troubling and beautiful.
While the name itself might be undignified, reportedly “person of dirty water”, Lake Winnebago offers glorious year-round views that can make a simple lunch on its shores feel like an exotic vacation (except during lake fly season, when only fat sturgeons open their mouths in public.)
One of the largest natural freshwater lakes in the country, Lake Winnebago covers 215 square miles and, thanks to its close neighbor, the Niagara Escarpment, offers spectacular views. It’s basically a blank canvas for evening sunsets as they stretch slowly out on the north end from High Cliff to Neenah and spill brilliant orange, red, violet and blue paint over the waves.
Underneath that glamour live the very busy working class members of the potawatomi winepyekoha society, the fish. Giant sturgeon slowly patrol, small and large mouth bass dart about, and the mainstays of Wisconsin Friday nights, walleye and perch, reproduce in happy abandon.
Due to all those fish (especially the giant though apparently harmless sturgeon), and the blue-green algae blooms that show up every summer, I prefer not to swim in Lake Winnebago, though I know plenty of people who do.
I also have not done a lot of boating or sailing on that water, but I think it looks like a lot of fun.
I have spent plenty of time on the shores of that nearly great lake contemplating its majesty, photographing its sunsets and feeling grateful for the mostly calm way it offers a reliable foundation for life in Wisconsin.