mud-drive-results_cp1759-staatsYesterday we left the Twin Cities before dawn and drove north 150 miles.  The sun came out on a record-setting warm day with temperatures in the 50’s.  The areas north still have snow covering the ground, and the lakes are frozen enough for trucks and fishermen to be enjoying cutting holes in the ice and finding fish below.  Even the snowmobilers were running across the lakes and land too.  Early in the morning the unpaved roads were frozen, but as the day progressed they became mud and clay with ruts throughout.  There was no way to avoid them so we continued and had a wonderful time enjoying the countryside, the lakes, and the activities, stopping once to clear off the back window of the car.  By the time we returned home my car was hardly recognizable.  All that mud and clay seemed to have adhered to the car and dried in place.  An extensive trip to the car wash was needed this morning, but I’ve kept the memories of an unusual spring day in February.

early-feb-thaw-at-como-lake_cp1690_staatsTemps in the 40’s?  That certainly means an early thaw in Minnesota, along with dreams and wishes for an early spring.  I took advantage of the sunshine to take a walk around Como Lake.  Along with many like-minded people who were soaking up this bit of warmth, the walking path and bike trail around the lake had everyone dodging puddles.  The lake was open near the northern shoreline, allowing the ducks to come and go.  In another area the ice held standing water to offer a second reflection of the winter trees.  We know winter is not over, and there will most likely be more snowfalls, but for this day it was a welcome glimpse of spring to come.

spring-lilies_narcissus-15634_staatsIn the doldrums of winter, sometimes the best antidote for this cold season is a splash of color.  I was rewarded with just that at the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park this morning.  The narcissus and Asiatic lilies were a profusion of bright colors, with an extra bonus of scent and smell.  A few hours amongst the pink azaleas and cyclamen was a wonderful way to reset the dark of winter and look forward to longer and brighter days ahead.

snow-sculptures_winter-carnival_15600-staatsAfter a week of gloomy, dreary skies a beautiful blue appeared today to help Saint Paul celebrate it’s Winter Carnival.  With temps in the 20’s, hundreds of people were dressed warmly, soaking up the Vitamin D, and enjoying the snow sculptures that were completed for the carnival.  Perhaps because we’re all longing for warmer climates, this sculpture titled “Under A Rest,” received the Peoples Choice Award.  Complete with cacti and little gophers popping up from the ground, the cowboy seemed quite content to take a long winter’s nap in his frozen state.

womens-march-mn_1471cp_staatsWe joined a crowd of 90,000-100,000 people in the Women’s March Minnesota yesterday.  With an expected crowd of 20,000 it soon became apparent that many more people found this an important event to support.  Light rail and buses were overflowing with commuters, but everyone was in good spirits with the intentions of the day; songs erupted – “Lean on Me,” “It’s a Small World” – and everyone joined in.  Navigating the sidewalks and streets that were filled with melted snow and ice was part of the day.  The crowd of women, men, and children moved slowly toward the Capitol building, all in support of a movement for respect, dignity, health, and family.  It was good to join family, friends, and others who marched peacefully throughout this country and throughout the world bringing attention to the concerns of many.

cabin-at-dusk_15552_staatsWe had spent the weekend exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.  Our last day had been cold, with bright sunshine and strong winds.  The snow was deep inland from the lake and there had been no thawing anywhere as the temps hovered near zero.  We pulled into our cabin after sunset, yet there was a hint of light in the sky.  With a bright star high above, the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, and the comfort of a light to guide us, we knew we were back – to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, and to marvel and appreciate the beauty that surrounded us on our explorations and our journeys.

sunset-on-the-north-shore-15536_staatsWe’ve just returned from a weekend getaway along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Winter was in all its glory with temps hovering between zero and below.  Our days were spent marveling in the beauty of the area and of winter along the far northeast corner of Minnesota and across the border into Ontario.  At Kakabeka Falls outside of Thunder Bay much of the water was frozen but there were still torrents plummeting over the edge, and the cold winter air caused sea smoke to rise off of Lake Superior. Along the Gunflint Trail people were out participating in and cheering a dog sled race, and there was also a fat tire bike festival taking place.  It was good to see so many people in multiple layers of clothing, big hats, thick gloves, and heavy, big boots – all ready to embrace the adventures that are unique to a cold Minnesota weekend.