by Joe Jaszewski
Staff Photographer
Idaho Statesman

My experience of winters has been northern California-style: fog, rain, and temperatures that dare dip into the high-30's. That is, until I moved to Boise, Idaho last summer.

I just finished my first REAL winter, complete with single-digit temperatures and snow storms. And it was certainly a different experience. Jeans and a jacket no longer cut it for January clothing and a Nissan sedan doesn't cut it for making it over mountain passes. Throw a broken foot into the mix which kept me off the ski hill, and it was a long winter for me.
But it presented me with some different experiences photographically.

© Photo by Joe Jaszewski/The Idaho Statesman

Carcassas of deer and elk lay in Luck Peak Reservoir on Jan. 9th, 2004 after dozens fell through the ice near More's Creek east of Boise, ID. The animals were trying to get to their winter range and more food after several storms pounded the higher elevations.

Just after Christmas we had a series of snow storms that pounded the southern part of the state, especially in the higher elevations. So much so that hundreds of deer and elk were coming down to lower elevations looking for food because everything was so snowed in higher up.

Dozens of them crossed Luck Peak reservoir which the Boise River flows into, about 30 miles north east of Boise. Unfortunately for the animals, the ice couldn't support the weight of them all and dozens ended up falling in the icy water to their deaths.

This picture was embarrassingly easy to shoot. I just had to park my car along ID-21, walk out about 50 feet to the edge of a cliff, and shoot down into the reservoir with a 300mm lens.

Later that month, my editor came to me and asked if I had anything I might like to shoot for the local section centerpiece. This doesn't happen often, so I was prepared for it. Idaho is still very much an agricultural state, especially in the south. I had wanted to profile a small-scale, independent farmer/rancher as a contrast to the agribusiness that dominates the state and our newspaper pages.

So I had contact information for Janie Burns in my drawer already. I gave her a call, asked if I could hang out for the afternoon, and off I went. We traipsed around in the snow, feeding sheep and making sure their water was wasn't frozen on her 10-acre spread west of Boise.

© Photo by Joe Jaszewski/The Idaho Statesman

Janie Burns walks out to the frozen fields to feed her sheep on her 10 acre Nampa, ID farm which she raises sheep, chickens and grows organic vegetables on.

I don't think I had ever been so cold in my life: single digits and wind-chill. I don't know how I kept moving my fingers.

I ended up turning in a 3-picture package and a short story as well for the next day's paper.

Boise's elevation is moderate, about 2,800 feet, and it's situated in a valley so the winter here is probably the most mild in the state. And I'm sure those of you who work every year in winter conditions much worse will laugh at how routine Real Winter is. But it wasn't for this native Californian.

Joe Jaszewski



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