We’ve returned from a getaway to Ontario – a needed trip into the north country away from city life.  We drove north of Dryden to Route Lake Lodge where we were met at the landing by Glen who motored us and our gear across the lake to the lodge.  With our cabin perched on the rocks right at the edge of Route Lake we had a panoramic view of the south end of the lake.  Here the terrain is rocks and trees –  both coming down to the water’s edge.  The weather was unseasonably warm and the winds blew constantly during the day creating whitecaps on the lake.  But we were able to find lovely protected bays, sand beaches that extended around points for perfect lunch stops, and towering cliffs that dropped straight down into the depths of the lake.  We were serenaded by the sound of the water lapping the rocky shoreline, an occasional boat motoring by, honking skeins of geese headed south, and the loons’ haunting cry.  The sunrises were painted orange from the smoke and haze of the fires in western Canada and the US.  The night sky was dark and sprinkled with stars – numerous and plentiful, with the Milky Way high above.  The hospitality of the lodge owners Glen and Shirley, the beauty of the area, and the “escape” from the city was just what we needed.

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Summer’s official closing party took place this past Labor Day as the Minnesota State Fair came to its conclusion.  I spent the final day of the fair with 170,000+ of my new friends enjoying the perfect weather, the food, the animals, the rides, the entertainment, and the people watching.  One of the oldest rides, and in my opinion one of the simplest rides, is the Giant Slide.  Climb up the stairs, sit on a mat, and slide all the way down to the bottom.  No flashing lights, no blaring music, no mechanical anything; it’s simple, it’s fun, and attracts people of all ages.  It’s a chance for adults to be kids again and for kids to be amazed at the adults around them having fun!  This cutout was meant for someone to put their face in, but it became the perfect frame for all the fun and laughter that was going on behind it on the Giant Slide.  Wheeeeeeeee!

Delicate and light, constantly in motion, mesmerizing and beautiful –  these are the words that come to my mind in describing the Blooming Butterfly exhibit at Como Park.  Yesterday morning’s gray and cool weather provided the perfect conditions for a photographer’s visit to the exhibit.  The  lack of sunshine and temps in the low 60’s allowed the butterflies to rest and not be as active as when the sun is bright and the air is warm.  The exhibit is filled with butterflies from Asia, Africa, North and South America, although only one of these can be found native to Minnesota.  Some are bright with multi colors, others are one or two colors, but beautiful just this same.  This Paper Kite butterfly settled among the bright flowers and rested, as if posing for this photograph.

I was at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park the other day and found myself mesmerized by the palms.  They’re towering and huge but this day the sun was filtering through the dome and creating some imaginative shadow and light plays.  Part of it reminded me of puppet shows we used to create when we were children.   I found myself trying to make up stories as to what was going on.  This image seemed to be of a flock of birds at the bottom; others weren’t as abstract as this.  Either way, the lines, the colors, the shadows, and the light all came together amongst the palms.

It’s summer today – hot, humid and muggy.  But in the shade in our backyard I got lost in some everyday petunias.  With their bright purple and white they add welcome color to the summer greens and yellows.  I began photographing the mass of petunias, but as I got in closer  I was captured by their fragile thin petals that blossom out from small stems of green.  Their stickiness and tiny hairs catch any small bugs that are near.  The blossoms  are short-lived and will be shriveled tomorrow and dry by the next, but they are a beautiful burst of color and joy when it’s their moment to shine.

On a recent bicycle ride through the countryside, I saw this common scene – freshly cut hay bales scattered across a field, blue sky and clouds overhead.  Here in Minnesota we’ve had more than our usual amount of rain, leaving the landscape lush and green.  The hay harvest has been done and appears to be plentiful.  Unfortunately some of our neighboring states have been battling severe drought, decimating their hay fields and other crops.  Like the help that was given earlier this year to farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma, many people are offering their hay to those suffering in North and South Dakota that have none.  A wonderful reminder of the good that takes place and yet is often overlooked.

August began as it should, sunny and hot – the epitome of a Minnesota summer’s day.  The perfect ending to an August day is a lake and ice cream.  We were lucky enough to have both the lake and a DQ close by in the Cities.  As kids played in the water by the swimming beach, we noticed more and more people coming to the lake as the sunset approached.  A storm was developing to the northwest and the clouds began to move in, but luckily they held off long enough for the sun to give up a last hurrah, light up the sky and clouds, and reflect its brilliant colors in the surface of the lake.  A group cruised by on their pontoon boat as we sat on a bench and enjoyed our ice cream, the cool breeze coming off the lake, and the beauty of the day’s end.