landscapes


On a recent bicycle ride through the countryside, I saw this common scene – freshly cut hay bales scattered across a field, blue sky and clouds overhead.  Here in Minnesota we’ve had more than our usual amount of rain, leaving the landscape lush and green.  The hay harvest has been done and appears to be plentiful.  Unfortunately some of our neighboring states have been battling severe drought, decimating their hay fields and other crops.  Like the help that was given earlier this year to farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma, many people are offering their hay to those suffering in North and South Dakota that have none.  A wonderful reminder of the good that takes place and yet is often overlooked.

August began as it should, sunny and hot – the epitome of a Minnesota summer’s day.  The perfect ending to an August day is a lake and ice cream.  We were lucky enough to have both the lake and a DQ close by in the Cities.  As kids played in the water by the swimming beach, we noticed more and more people coming to the lake as the sunset approached.  A storm was developing to the northwest and the clouds began to move in, but luckily they held off long enough for the sun to give up a last hurrah, light up the sky and clouds, and reflect its brilliant colors in the surface of the lake.  A group cruised by on their pontoon boat as we sat on a bench and enjoyed our ice cream, the cool breeze coming off the lake, and the beauty of the day’s end.

We spent yesterday exploring the backroads and lakes of western Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful summer’s day and the countryside was verdantly green due to recent rains.  As we were traveling down a county road I saw a large field of yellow.  As I ventured out in the waist-tall grasses and flowers I realized the field was filled with wildflowers.  These prairie coneflowers were high above the others, and they swayed in the wind.  Scattered around them were ox-eye flowers and bee balm.  I was in the middle of a sea of color and beauty.  The bees were busy moving amongst the blossoms and the wind rustled the flowers enough to make they appear to be dancing across the field.  It was a true representation of summer in all her glory.

The heat and humidity built throughout the day.  As evening approached the sun and blue skies gave way to towering white thunderhead clouds to the south.  Quickly the darker clouds moved in, the sky took on an eerie gun-metal gray and gold, and the wind grew still.  I wandered through the cornfields watching and listening.  In a short period of time there was lightning in the area.  I erred on the side of caution and decided a woman with a tripod in the middle of a cornfield with lightning around was not a good idea.  Within minutes of that decision, the winds picked up and the rain came down.

We were wandering the back roads of central Minnesota recently in the early evening.  The day had given us rain, cooler temperatures, some sun and wind.  As the sun was getting lower in the sky, the clouds reflected the colors, and the moisture in the air gave us a beautiful rainbow.  The lake still stirred with the wind, creating ripples that rolled across the waters, but the evening provided a magical display of light and reflection for a brief moment.

The first weekend of “official summer” brought a cold front with temps in the 60’s – hardly feeling like the summer we’ve been hoping for.  We were in Duluth to celebrate a friends’ return to Minnesota – a new home and wonderful people to welcome her back.  The roads and highways were lined with lupine, standing upright and in full bloom.  Colors ranging from deep purple, to lilac, to pink, to white – they were a welcome sight from the clouds and cooler temperatures.  But I was most enthralled by the lupines along the shoreline of Lake Superior.  With the huge lake in the background and the billowing clouds, the lupines stood tall against the wind and the weather blowing in from the lake.

On a brilliant summer’s day we took a drive west of the Twin Cities to Swenson Gardens in Howard Lake, Minnesota.  Their gardens were open for their annual Peony Field Days, and the timing was perfect.  With warmer temperatures and bright sunshine many of the peonies had come into full bloom.  It was a chance to wander and dream and plan for places in our own garden for more of these lovely plants.  I especially liked these America peonies –  their bright red was a wonderful contract to the green foliage and the blue sky with its puffy clouds.

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