cityscape


It’s been a string of summer days here in Saint Paul – sunshine, blue skies, beautiful white puffy clouds, and warmth.  I took a walk to Como Park and followed the path all the way around Lake Como.  Near the pavilion there were people considering the rental of water crafts.  And they had many to choose from – kayaks, canoes, peddle boats, and paddle boards.  A tough decision, but any of those choices would bring a change of scenery and some cooler air out on the lake.

These are the long summer days we look forward to all winter.  It’s worth the snow and cold temperatures to finally turn the calendar to June and welcome the sun and the warmth of summer.

I was very fortunate to be at Como Park the other evening.  It had been a beautiful day and many people were enjoying the evening and the park.  There were people walking, biking, running, flying kites, setting up hammocks between trees, picnicking, and taking in all that our urban park offers, including a recent high school graduate celebrating his accomplishment.  The sun was fighting through the hazy clouds on the western horizon, but it threw a lovely light on the waterfall on the right side of the Frog Pond.  And that same light was streaming through the glass of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory.  How lucky I was to be there at this very moment.

As we are all social distancing and staying at home, our world is dominated by our views looking out.  Many of us have become observers of the transition of seasons, the angle of the sun coming through our windows, and our neighbors that pass by walking their dogs.  It’s good to look out to recognize and confirm that winter moves into spring, the sun continues to rise, and our neighbors are still in our neighborhood.  That’s what gives us a sense of normalcy in these uncertain times.

This photo takes a different approach and looks inside from the outside.  The sunlight streams through the window, lighting the vase amidst the darkness behind it.  Shadows are created across the curtain by the window frame.  The lace is delicate and beautiful, set off against the coarse texture of the wall.  Perhaps our inside worlds are just as beautiful now as the outside world, if we take a moment to observe and appreciate where we are at this moment and what surrounds us.

The snow of winter has a way of draping its white over everything.  The trees become lined emphasizing their structure and branches.  The ground becomes white showing the curves and hips of hills.  At the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus is a wonderful sculpture setting of cows.  These bigger than life animals are resting peacefully in their urban setting.  The snow has draped over them also, quietly emphasizing their repose and seeming indifference to the weather.  They’re a great reminder to me to accept the weather, accept the snow, and appreciate its beauty.

Oh, the beauty of fall!  On what might have been one of the last truly warm days of fall – blue sky, a warm breeze, and 70 degrees – I walked through Como Park.  I was not alone, as there were people walking, biking, running, meandering –  anything to soak up the glorious day.  The sunshine brought out the colors of the sky and grass and the flaming red of this tree by the Frog Pond.  Now we hunker down for a cold front and snow flurries, thankful for the recent memory of a beautiful day.

It was another bitterly cold day in the Twin Cities.  Suffering from cabin fever from our long drawn-out winter, we were looking for a diversion and headed to the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  The visit was wonderful –  a chance to forget about the weather and get absorbed in the art inside.  The building itself was designed by Frank Gehry and features his Deconstructivist style architecture.  The outside panels are a treat for photographers as they reflect the surroundings.   With the cold sunshine there were amazing abstracts, lines, designs, and colors.

There is a small diner/restaurant in the neighborhood where we live.  I pass it almost every day when I’m out for a walk.  The window glass reflects the fallen leaves and their textures, along with the empty bike rack by the street, onto the plates and the table top.  Although the diner isn’t open when I go by it’s comforting to see the dishes and silverware and napkins sitting on the tables waiting for someone’s arrival… just as we are waiting for the upcoming holidays, winter, and snow with the turn of the calendar to December..

After a week or more with below freezing temperatures, we reveled in a day of 40 degrees and sunshine.  I took advantage of our “heat wave” and went for a long walk that took me through Como Park.  As I went past the lake it was wonderful to see the snow and ice patterns.  The dark areas in the photograph are clear ice, interrupted by the white snow that had been blown across the lake.  There were lots of big cracks going through the surface too.  Once we get back to our cold temperatures, the ice will continue to form….all a part of winter in Minnesota.

The snow started Friday night.  After 24 hours it was still coming down, whipped by the wind into whiteout conditions.  Another 12 hours later the wind had calmed somewhat and the flurries were lighter, but still coming down.  The snow was blown into drifts, and it was hanging precariously from the roof eaves.  Anywhere from 10 to 12 inches were on the ground.  As I headed out to start shoveling my eyes caught sight of the fence.  The snow was perched carefully on the railings and even filled in the horizontal line to the caps of the posts.  At the bottom the snow had drifted partway up.  Two hours of shoveling and the snow was still coming down.  Although this sort of snow is not unheard of in Minnesota in April, it is anything but spring-like, and most Minnesotans are dreaming of green grass.  Soon!

The Super Bowl and its fans departed the Twin Cities last week, but the St. Paul Winter Carnival continued.  On a cold night we wandered to downtown St. Paul where the ice sculptures were on display, along with this year’s star attraction, an ice palace.  The weather has cooperated with the Winter Carnival this year, and all the attractions were still in their frozen shape (as opposed to the melting we’ve experienced in other years).  A huge ice palace was built this year and was dominant over the other activities.  This cold night brought many people out to admire the structure.  During the day when the sun has been shining and had some warmth, people have placed pennies in the large ice blocks.  The other “item” of note in the palace was the frozen walleye that was in one of the blocks on the south side.  The good news, per St. Paul Winter Carnival folklore, is that once again Vulcanus Rex and his Krewe have dominated over King Boreas, and winter will end and warmer weather will be on the horizon.

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