Minnesota


Spring is here and our weather warmed up quickly to hearken all the flowers into bloom.  The garden beds are filled with daffodils and tulips, and the red bud trees have added their color too.  It’s a beautiful time to wonder at the multitude of colors that now surround us.

And on Mother’s Day, a special thank you to mothers everywhere.  Although my mother passed away four years ago, I still think of her everyday and appreciate all the lessons I learned from her.  Take a moment and thank those mothers that are near and dear to you.

 

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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 perfect antidote for another snowy April afternoon was an outing to the Minnesota State Capitol building.  Last summer the building reopened after a restoration and renovation that took over three years.  After clearing away 110 years of grime and dirt, repairing water damage, repainting walls, restoring skylights and stained glass, the building is a jewel of color and beauty.  The rotunda sparkles and shines and is surrounded by paintings and statues telling the story of the state and its people.  It’s an architectural (and decorative) wonder for having been built in the early 1900’s.

Easter and April mean spring.  Spring means warmth and colors.  Except when Mother Nature decides to put a white icing over the landscape.  I spent some time at the McNeely Conservatory yesterday morning photographing the spring flowers.  Outside the weather was cold and windy and snowing, but the conservatory was the perfect antidote to the weather.  I was surrounded by the smells of tulips and daffodils, hyacinths and magnolias.  In the bonsai section I found this lovely azalea.  Its diminutive structure seemed to mirror the snow-covered tree outside, while its brilliant colors were the opposite of the landscape beyond the window.

During the past week we have had three distinct snowfalls, each one giving us plenty of opportunity to be outside.  Just as we start to grumble about winter we remind ourselves that we are exercising while shoveling, we are getting Vitamin D on those mornings when the sun is sparkling over the fresh blanket of snow, and we are seeing our neighbors more regularly as we are all outside clearing our sidewalks and drives.  For some reason my snow shoveling seems to take longer than others.  I’m stopping to see the soft drifts that are piling up, I’m watching the clouds start to dissipate as the sun burns through them, I’m marveling at the brightest of blue skies overhead, I’m hearing a call of a cardinal in between the sound of snow blowers,  and I’m noticing how the snow has settled so lightly on  some of the tree branches.  All those details only enhance my appreciation of winter and its unique beauty.

A week ago we headed north to visit a friend near Duluth.  The weather was sunny but still cold; we were excited to be at 15 degrees!  We all strapped on our snowshoes and headed out into the woods.  Along for the trip was Halo – a happy, snow loving dog who was running rings around us.  Halo is enjoying life now after suffering while with a previous owner.  She is missing one of her hind legs, but seeing her jump through the deep snow, bounding ahead of us, and loving every minute of it, you’d never know that it might slow her down.  She was in her element and reminded us all of embracing the seasons that we have and enjoying them to their fullest, no matter!

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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