Family


County road sunrise7D_13742_StaatsI awoke this morning before the sunrise, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  We were in Kansas for a family wedding.  The weather had been as perfect as is possible for August in Kansas – low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 80’s.  But this morning the air was fresh and cooled, and the fog hung low in the valleys.  As I drove down gravel roads, the dust hung in the golden air and the sunlight glistened off the telephone lines and the grasses.  My nephew and his lovely bride were married in a garden setting yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.  It was lovely and it was just as they had hoped – a true expression of who they are individually and who they are as a couple.  As I was greeting the morning with an appreciation of the scenery and a new day, I was hoping that this first day of their life as husband and wife would be a beautiful omen of their future together.  Congrats to them; and I’m so proud of their family that has showered them with love.

Volkswagen Beetle_13525 StaatsI spent this morning wandering the Minnesota State Fairgrounds at the Minnesota Street Rod Association’s Back to the Fifties celebration – 12,000+ vehicles dating from 1964 and before.  For a photographer, it’s a treat to the eyes with all the colors and details, reflections, and car enthusiasts.  Even though the temperatures were hovering near 90 degrees, there was a plethora of people and families, with many Father’s Day celebrations taking place.  As I was getting ready to leave, I saw these two Volkswagen Beetles, and was instantly taken back to my childhood and memories of my father.  I remember the small light green Beetle he bought when I was about five or six years old.  This was way before children’s car seats, and I would sit on my large stuffed red dog that was wedged over the parking brake between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and watch the world go by.  There was also a small cargo area behind the back seat, perfect for one small suitcase, but it would hold me quite nicely.  My memories of this little car are all good, and it was a welcome delight to reminisce of my father on this Father’s Day.

Chapel and peonies_StaatsA day of celebration, a day of love, filled with spirits, memories, honor, remembrance, a nod to the past, and a step to the future.  A chapel designed by my father, bouquets of peonies to honor my mother, an intimate gathering of family and friends – a celebration to remember!

House of memories_StaatsThis has been a week of reflection for me.  Those of you that have followed my blog the past few years know that my parents passed away within a few months of each other two years ago.  The house that they moved into when I was three years old was the house that they shared until their deaths.  The first owners of this house and the first house built on the block, they moved in with the dreams of their life together and the dreams of building a family.  The house was the shell that was filled with the shared experiences of my parents, my two brothers, and myself as we all grew up.  This home expanded to include grandparents, in-laws, grandchildren, and friends way too numerous to count.  As the family grew, so too the house grew with additions designed by my father the architect.  And with each addition and change, the new rooms were filled to the brim with more memories and love.  The once new “stick-tree” in the front yard has matured and extends over the entire yard and house, its arms having held so many of us as we climbed up its branches.   Each person who passed over the threshold knew they were welcomed with the large arms my parents opened.  The house has now been passed on to the second owner in its 58 years.  But I know that the house is only a structure; the people are the ones that made it a home.  The memories and stories of the family and friends that have been a part of the structure will continue in our family throughout the generations that follow.

White rose 12131_StaatsThe color white evokes so many feelings and emotions.  For those on the east coast, white is the color of the snow that has enveloped their area.  For brides it is the color of newness and purity.  For funerals it is the color of new life and light.  As we celebrated the life of a family member recently departed, we were surrounded by flowers and plants of many colors and scents.  The white roses seemed to be strong and yet tender all at the same time.  A symbol of hope and love, circling around and around as the petals unfold from the bud.

Ed the fisherman_StaatsSadly we’ve said good-bye to a family member who passed the milestone of 99 1/2 years of life.  After coming back from so many stumbling blocks and minor health issues, the medical event yesterday was too much for Ed to overcome.  A Minnesota man throughout his life, he enjoyed fishing and hunting, boating and snowmobiling.  He was a large man with a gentle demeanor.  His shared life with his wife Vi covered 45 years of adventures and travels.  And as time passed by, they remained devoted to one another.   I will always remember his smile and laugh – a laugh that erupted and was truly delivered from delight.  The last time I saw him alive he flashed that smile at me and I couldn’t help but smile back, returning the joy on his face.  Thanks for the joy you brought to us all, Ed.

Farmland snow_Staats 12034A new year — new ideas, new hopes, new resolutions.  Or maybe not.  As I look back on last year I realize that sometimes the most memorable times were the ones that were unplanned.  They came about, perhaps with a seed of thought, but they developed into something wonderful.  One grandson, then a second grandson, a marriage proposal, friends near and far, and family that came to visit.  This year I have many things to look forward to: two family weddings (one which is my own!), a honeymoon, a nephew’s college graduation, followed by his brother’s high school graduation.  Yesterday we took a drive through the Wisconsin countryside.  We had a general idea where we were headed, but the route developed as we wandered.  We found undulating hills and valleys in dairy country, fields of fresh snow, a creek where the hoarfrost was still evident in the late morning,  and a military veteran who was brought to tears when we thanked him for his service in World War II.  All these adventures came about because we were present in the day and 0pen to the discoveries that developed.  My wish for the new year is to be open to all that each day offers, and embrace it fully – life, friends, family, adventures, and memories.

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