fall-color-reflection-14359_staatsI was up early yesterday morning hoping for a beautiful sunrise to compliment the fall colors that we’re enjoying in Minnesota.  But as luck would have it, the cloud cover was too thick and there was no sunshine.  However, it was unusually warm and the colors were still wonderful.  There was enough wind to throw ripples across the lake and there was a shoreline that was mostly protected from the wind.  Looking through the camera lens I was mesmerized by the color reflection in the water.  The slight movement created a blur of colors and the more I looked at it the more I was reminded of the Northern Lights, only here they were playing out as reflections in a northern lake.

fall-colors-of-the-north-woods-14278_staatsIf you’re lucky enough to be in the North Woods of Minnesota at the peak of fall color, you can’t help but be amazed.  It may be fleeting, and its peak appearance can’t be written onto the calendar months in advance, but this year we had the great fortune of being in the right place at the right time.  We spent a few days in central Itasca County, near Jack the Horse Lake.  The area is part of the Chippewa National Forest and is filled with county and forest roads that meander through the hills, the trees, and around the numerous lakes.  We caught ourselves pointing out beautiful vistas around almost every turn.  The colors were brilliant, whether the sun was shining and the sky was blue, or the skies were overcast.  While we were there, the temperatures plummeted to below freezing and we even encountered some early-season sleet and snow showers, but it was worth the extra layers of clothing to be filled with awe and appreciation at the landscape and colors around us.

fog-and-fall-color-ms-river-bluffs_14225-staatsWe have some wonderful friends near Wabasha, Minnesota that have a vineyard on the bluff above the Mississippi River.  Each year we journey south to help with the harvest, and today the grapes were calling us.  We left the Twin Cities with a clear sunrise, but as we headed towards the river the fog became thicker and thicker.  Even when we got to Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi is so wide it’s called a lake, there was no lake to see.  I love to photograph in the fog because it can create a clean palette to work with designs and lines, and we stopped along our trip so I could do just that.  But as we headed up the bluff, away from the river to the vineyard, we broke out into the sunshine once again.  Some of the trees in the area are just starting to show some yellows and golds for fall colors.  From the top of the bluff I was amazed to see the layers in this photograph:  the grape vines are loaded with grapes, the trees are showing some color, the Mississippi River is socked in with fog, and the Wisconsin bluffs are visible on the other side with blue sky above.  It was a beautiful day to be outside picking grapes, visiting our friends and the others that were gathered to help with the harvest.

fern-design-14021_staatsI spent a couple of hours this morning at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park.  The flowers were beautiful and the rain gradually cleared away while I was there.  But today I was seeing lines, rather than colorful flowers.  I spotted this fern near a window.  Gracefully it arched upward, and its tips hung down and even swirled over itself.  I walked around the fern and photographed many of the branches.  And then I saw this one as I was looking down.  Its green color was complimented by the flooring stones and it spread and twirled below where I stood.  For some reason this image became all about the simplicity, the lines, the colors, and the gracefulness of the fern.

red-apples-on-a-blue-sky-day-13959_staatsYesterday was the epitome of an early fall day – cloudy and cool in the morning, but clearing skies and warm sun.  We took advantage of the day and left the Cities early, heading west to Howard Lake, Minnesota.  Our first stop was Swenson Gardens, the essential place for peonies.  We had visited there a year ago, but this time we were getting advice on dividing and planting peonies.  Keith and Becky offered they personal help and guidance and we left with plenty of information and three new peony plants for our home garden.  As the sun was breaking through the clouds, we wandered south a few miles to Carlson’s Orchard.  The bakery and restaurant were doing a bustling business, and a wait was required but certainly worth every minute.  We had a delicious lunch, followed by fresh apple pie a la mode.  The orchard was filled with apples, and the beautiful red Haralsons stood out against the blue and white sky and green of the trees and grass.  One more stop at a winery for some tasting and a glass of wine in the sun made for a full and relaxing day.

one-world-trade-center-8252_staatsTime moves forward, but we can always remember and reflect on September 11, 2001.

cherry-tomatoes-13944_staatsWe have a very small garden plot in our backyard – nothing special but some very fertile soil.  And we are now reaping the benefits of that with a plethora of cherry tomatoes.  Our plants took a beating in early summer when we had a big wind storm move through.  The vines were up and above the tomato cages when the storm blew through the back yard, causing the cages and vines to topple over.  With some stakes and twine we up righted them, although the vines were all entangled.  But that didn’t harm our harvest a bit.  It’s a pleasure to go out to the garden in the early morning and rummage through the vines and pick the ripe tomatoes, and even better to choose a few to go straight from the vine to my mouth.  They pop open with juiciness and the wonderful flavor of summer!