morning-blanket-of-snow_staats15156We woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow — on the ground and on the trees.  It was a wet snow, and with little wind it was clinging to the trees and piling up on the branches.  Everything was fresh and white.  As the morning wore on and the temperature stayed near 30 degrees, people were out enjoying the winter landscape.  I saw a family building a snow fort, numerous snowmen in various shapes and stages of development, people walking and running, dogs playing in the snow, and even some sleds were brought out for the first time this winter.

winter-stillness-and-reflection_15035-staatsThe snow began after dark and continued through the night.  It was a wet and heavy snow that blanketed the ground and outlined the branches and trees.  In the morning the landscape had been transformed to winter.  It was stillness and quiet this morning before Thanksgiving.  I was at the golf course at Como Park where the oak trees on the far side of the pond still had their burgundy leaves. The entire landscape before me was quietly reflected in the open water.  No ripple, no movement.  Only the peacefulness of a winter’s morning.

winters-arrival-ordway-japanes-garden_14930-staatsWe knew it was coming; it was even later than usual this year.  But winter’s arrival is always a shock, especially when the temperature drops 30 degrees in one day, the wind blows and gusts, and the rain turns to snow.  For less than 48 hours we have been below freezing.  The snow fell Friday afternoon and evening, and here in the Twin Cities we have less than an inch on the ground.  But the white was evident on the plants and grass, and the cold was enough to put a layer of ice on the water in the Ordway Japanese Garden at Como Park.  One tree bravely held on to its bright red leaves – the only real spark of color in the now-winter landscape.  In this beautiful quiet this morning, the only sound was the waterfall that was continuing to gurgle and the geese whose flight south to open water took on a new sense of urgency.

laka-mary-sunset-14756_staatsThis was a weekend of rest and relaxation at the lake.  I’m fortunate to have a group of friends that find camaraderie and restoration together at one woman’s cabin near Alexandria.  The beer was cold, the food was great, and the conversation flowed easily.  It was a time for all of us to unwind, share the events of our lives, and reconnect since our last time together.  Even better was the fact that our weather was warm and clear – unusual for this time in November.  Friday evening I found myself drawn to the lake.  There was no wind, the sun was slowly sinking into the western sky, and a beautiful wisp of clouds was reflected in the glass-like surface of the lake.  The water was so clear I could see the rocks below the surface at my feet.  All was silent, and all was right with this natural world.  As I marveled at the beauty and gave thanks for my friends and my life right now, a loon gave out its characteristic cry in the middle of the lake.  It seemed to be a reminder that nature can always be a place for us to recharge, refresh, and find a restorative place amidst all the outside influences that work to distract us and try to wear us down.

golden-magnolia-colors-14733_staatsIn this morning’s bright light, I stood under our magnolia tree to take in the colors, smells, and sounds.  The leaves have turned a beautiful shade of gold, mixed in with some rusts and browns.  The tree and the ground below it have that distinct smell of fall – old, musty, and dry.  And as I photographed, the leaves were coming down all around me.  The wind would rise, a rustle would develop, and I could hear the sound of leaves floating in the air, touching other leaves as they made their way to the ground.  By the end of the day the area under the magnolia was a sea of leaves, yet there are still some holding tight until the next windy day.

amur-maple-leaves-14624_staatsIt’s the time of year when the landscape changes daily.  The flashes of brilliant fall color are dwindling as the leaves are falling.  Our neighborhood block is filled with maple trees and they are in various stages of colors.  I set out today to do some raking of leaves in the yard.  They were scattered around, and were in multiple shades of yellow, orange, brown, and red.  But the best part of today’s chore was knowing that I didn’t need to rake up each and every leaf.  As colorful as the ground was, I looked above me and saw that many trees still have their leaves and their time will be coming soon to drop all those leaves in our yard.  And I will be raking again.  And again.  And again.  For now the task is enjoyable, but it will take on a more urgent call when snow and ice are in our forecast.

autumn-sunrise-como-park_14461-staatsOur fall temperatures have continued, and last Friday dawned with a noticeable crispness in the air.  The wind was still at this early hour, and the sun was just starting to reflect off the clouds above as it made its way over the horizon.  At Como Park I was able to find a perfect spot to take in the sunrise.  A small pond on the golf course captured the reflection of the clouds above, and the silhouettes of the trees.  Some trees still have their leaves while others have lost them to the autumn winds, and the grasses are in full bloom – their swan song before winter moves in.  This season seems to be the shortest one, no matter how hard we try to hold onto the fall colors.