spring


I was headed somewhere else, took a detour on a gravel road, came to a high point and my eye caught a tall white steeple looming over the farmlands.  A u-turn put me in the right direction, and as I pulled into the churchyard another car was pulling in behind me.  Ken had just arrived to clean the oldest of the churches, and he graciously told me the history of the site near Nerstrand, Minnesota.  The Norwegian community built the original limestone church in 1862, and the white wooden frame church was finished in 1894.  Complete with a beautiful pipe organ, it is a simple, sun-drenched sanctuary.  The church was decommissioned in 1973, but the Valley Grove Preservation Society has worked tirelessly to restore both churches and acquire many of the acres of land surrounding the site for prairie and oak savanna restoration.  The haze of the sky in the photo was from the prairie that was being burned just to the west of the white church.  I was delighted to have happened upon this site at the same time that Ken arrived, otherwise I would have missed the inside view and the stories he shared of the history and the efforts by the Preservation Society.  I was even able to ring the old church bell and hear it resonate from its old tower.  I am looking forward to sharing in the community’s country social in September, and hopefully attending their Christmas Eve service.  It was my lucky day for having taken that winding road off my original path to follow the white steeple.

Spring generally announces its arrival with the bright colors of tulips, crocus, and daffodils, and the greening of grass and trees leafing out.  And yet I’ve found a much softer and more delicate side to the season just out my front window.  We have a lovely magnolia tree that bursts forth into blossoms near the middle of April.  It’s bloom is much anticipated.  And unfortunately its bloom is also short-lived, with the flower petals giving way to the wind or rain, and quickly to the green leaves that burst forth afterward.  But as it becomes awash in white flowers it becomes magnificent.  The petals are thin and delicate with a soft tinge of pink.  To me it signals the whisper and call of a softer side to spring.

Spring and Easter – all at the same time.  Bright colors, light colors, the colors of spring.  This flowering crabapple bonsai seemed to sum up the season and the day.   Wishing you the bright colors and warmth and joy of spring and Easter!

Our weekend was a two-night road trip south to Iowa for softball.  My niece plays for the Baker University Wildcats (from Baldwin, Kansas) and they were playing games in Dubuque and Cedar Rapids;  a perfect excuse for a beautiful spring weekend escape from the north.  Today’s games were against the Mount Mercy Mustangs of Cedar Rapids.  With excitement in both games, the Wildcats won the first game and the home-town Mustangs won the second game.  But the weekend also gave us a chance to explore some areas of Wisconsin and Iowa we hadn’t seen before, and also the chance to catch up with family.  A whirlwind trip, but so very worth it!

Yesterday I drove south from the Twin Cities with a photographer friend in search of pasque flowers.  The weather was unusually warm, the sunshine was bright, and it was good to catch up with my friend.  We arrived at this gravel prairie area and were at first disappointed thinking the flowers were not in bloom yet.  But as we looked more closely we could see peeks of flowers amidst the dry prairie grasses.  The pasque flowers are only three to four inches tall, so they can easily hide.  They start out as little fuzz balls (of which we saw many) and gradually open their petals to the warmth of the sun.  Although there will be a larger and showier display with more flowers blooming in the days ahead, it was a delightful evening and a reminder of all the good things that come with spring.

It’s tulip time –  perhaps in the temperate Skagit Valley of Washington, or in the states to the south of me.  But in Minnesota the ground has just thawed and there hasn’t been enough warmth for any bulbs to force through the still cool soil.  Yet with the help of a nearby florist, we can enjoy the scents and colors of the spring to come.  These tulips have brightened my world every day this past week and given me the promise of spring – perhaps just around the corner.

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as wanting something to happen or be true.  So it is with spring this year.  We “hope” for sunshine, warmer temperatures, the bright colors of flowers.  We “hope” that the passing days bring longer hours of sunshine.  And yet Mother Nature has alternative plans.  This week we rode a roller coaster through snow and strong winds, rain, and the promise of warmer air.  Through it all we strive to embrace what it is, just as these runners ran through a deserted Como Park having the trails and snow to themselves in this once-again wintry landscape.

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