Minnesota


Winter made its comeback this week with colder temperatures and snow.  The St. Croix River, which creates the border between northern Wisconsin and Minnesota was showing the results of the weather change.  Just last week the river was flowing freely, cascading southward to join up with the Mississippi River.  This week was another story.  The shoreline was filled with thin and uneven ice pushed up against the banks, yet the river flowed freely in the middle, carrying smaller sections of ice with the current.  If the cold temperatures continue the river will freeze completely and will remain frozen until the warmer temps of spring.

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The past three weeks we’ve had a Friday snowfall, and each one has been different.  One was wet and sloppy, one was a dusting of dry snow, and another was driven from the north.  This one painted the trees on one side only, outlining them from the wind direction.  Birch and aspen that are generally white had an extra coating of brighter white on the north.  With a cloudy sky overhead, this color photograph became a black and white scene without any alterations.  Each of these snows have been short-lived as they’ve been followed by warmer temperatures and sometimes rain.  But as the months progress, we know there will soon be the snow that stays and is increased with each storm – all the way until next spring.

We are in the middle of the transition from fall to winter in Minnesota, and Mother Nature has her own agenda.  With fall colors still evident, we had two quick snowfalls.  We love the four distinct seasons we have, yet we can be confused when the boundaries are blurred.  My neighbors have a beautiful euonymus tree in their front yard.  Its leaves are a wonderful pinkish-red in fall, and yet this week the branches were covered with snow.  The white made the leaves glow a bit brighter, and contrasted them to the more usual golds and browns that were scattered on the sidewalk below.  The wetness of the snow had its affect on the leaves; the next day the tree was bare and the ground was dappled with red.

One of my favorite places at Como Park is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory, and one of my favorite rooms in the conservatory is the palm room.  The central, tallest room has a 64′ tall dome that’s visible throughout the park.  Within the room are palms of all types, some nearly 100 years old.  Below the peak of the dome is a bronze sculpture titled “Crest of the Wave,”  created by Harriet Frishmuth in 1925.  Its grace and upward motion leads your eyes up to the very top of the dome, celebrating the spaciousness and the beauty of the glass surrounding the room.  Whether daytime or nighttime, the view is wonderful!

Summer’s official closing party took place this past Labor Day as the Minnesota State Fair came to its conclusion.  I spent the final day of the fair with 170,000+ of my new friends enjoying the perfect weather, the food, the animals, the rides, the entertainment, and the people watching.  One of the oldest rides, and in my opinion one of the simplest rides, is the Giant Slide.  Climb up the stairs, sit on a mat, and slide all the way down to the bottom.  No flashing lights, no blaring music, no mechanical anything; it’s simple, it’s fun, and attracts people of all ages.  It’s a chance for adults to be kids again and for kids to be amazed at the adults around them having fun!  This cutout was meant for someone to put their face in, but it became the perfect frame for all the fun and laughter that was going on behind it on the Giant Slide.  Wheeeeeeeee!

Delicate and light, constantly in motion, mesmerizing and beautiful –  these are the words that come to my mind in describing the Blooming Butterfly exhibit at Como Park.  Yesterday morning’s gray and cool weather provided the perfect conditions for a photographer’s visit to the exhibit.  The  lack of sunshine and temps in the low 60’s allowed the butterflies to rest and not be as active as when the sun is bright and the air is warm.  The exhibit is filled with butterflies from Asia, Africa, North and South America, although only one of these can be found native to Minnesota.  Some are bright with multi colors, others are one or two colors, but beautiful just this same.  This Paper Kite butterfly settled among the bright flowers and rested, as if posing for this photograph.

I was at the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park the other day and found myself mesmerized by the palms.  They’re towering and huge but this day the sun was filtering through the dome and creating some imaginative shadow and light plays.  Part of it reminded me of puppet shows we used to create when we were children.   I found myself trying to make up stories as to what was going on.  This image seemed to be of a flock of birds at the bottom; others weren’t as abstract as this.  Either way, the lines, the colors, the shadows, and the light all came together amongst the palms.

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