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!

Dairy princess in butter 13938_StaatsThe Minnesota State Fair ends it’s 2016 run tomorrow; a 12-day event filled with animals, rides, vendors, music, art displays, food on a stick, and millions of people gathering as summer winds down.  Minnesota has 3,000+ dairy farms and honors those in the industry with its own Dairy Princess.  There are numerous finalists from different counties around the state, and one princess is chosen to be Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  She and the other princesses serve as goodwill ambassadors for the dairy industry.  Since 1965 Linda Christensen has been spending each day of the fair in a 40 degree cooler carving a 90 pound block of butter into the likeness of Princess Kay and the 11 other princesses.  It takes Linda about six hours for each butter bust, requiring the princess and Linda to dress warmly and take breaks.  As the platform rotates inside the cooler, fair-goers can watch Linda’s skills and marvel at the sculptures she’s completed, all while savoring the malts, shakes, cones, and cheese curds that are sold right next to the cooler.  When the fair is complete, each princess gets to take home her own butter sculpture.  It is just one of the things that makes the Minnesota State Fair so special.

Lake como dawn 13853_StaatsYesterday’s cool rain cleared overnight, but left pockets of fog in some of the low-lying areas.  The stars came out with the promise of sunshine today.  I was up before dawn this morning and went to Lake Como.  The air was still — no wind to form ripples or waves across the lake, and the fog that was expected hadn’t settled in over the water.  Gradually the dawn sky was growing lighter.  The canoes and kayaks that are available for rent rested in place on the dock, waiting for today’s patrons.  The peace and quiet were a welcome relief from the busyness and crowds that are a short mile away converging on the Minnesota State fairgrounds.

Cannon Falls_13763 StaatsWe wandered south of the Twin Cities yesterday on a dreary, rainy Saturday.  August has been unusually wet with heavy downpours occurring frequently, resulting in high rivers and standing water in many fields.  All this was noticeable as we drove through the countryside, but it became more apparent on a stop in the town of Cannon Falls.  Here, the Little Cannon River flows alongside and through the town.  In a “normal” August, average rainfall for Cannon Falls is four inches.  To date this month they have had close to double that – almost eight inches.  And with yesterday’s rain continuing to fall, it was obvious as the river stretched out of its banks.  The falls were roaring and tossing the brown, sediment-filled water into the air as it tumbled toward the Cannon River which then flows on to the Mississippi River.