Minnesota


Last week I celebrated what now seems to have been a colorful flourish to the end of summer.  I sent some time at the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  The sunken garden was filled with its summer flowers, scents, and  colors.  Since that day our weather has been gray, cloudy, rainy, and much cooler — anything but summer-like.  How lucky I was to have soaked up the last bright colors of summer!

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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.

 

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!

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