summer


As our temperatures rushed into summer highs yesterday, people were resorting to the tried and true ways of staying cool.  Mid 90’s and high humidity cause some Minnesotans to shelter in air conditioning, while the majority choose to embrace the weather but cool off by a lake.  Whatever wind that’s blowing across the lake surface cools and becomes a delightful and welcome breeze.  People were out at Lake Como canoeing, kayaking, walking, relaxing and savoring the warmth of summer; winter’s cold seemed a long way away!

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.

cherry-tomatoes-13944_staatsWe have a very small garden plot in our backyard – nothing special but some very fertile soil.  And we are now reaping the benefits of that with a plethora of cherry tomatoes.  Our plants took a beating in early summer when we had a big wind storm move through.  The vines were up and above the tomato cages when the storm blew through the back yard, causing the cages and vines to topple over.  With some stakes and twine we up righted them, although the vines were all entangled.  But that didn’t harm our harvest a bit.  It’s a pleasure to go out to the garden in the early morning and rummage through the vines and pick the ripe tomatoes, and even better to choose a few to go straight from the vine to my mouth.  They pop open with juiciness and the wonderful flavor of summer!

Dairy princess in butter 13938_StaatsThe Minnesota State Fair ends it’s 2016 run tomorrow; a 12-day event filled with animals, rides, vendors, music, art displays, food on a stick, and millions of people gathering as summer winds down.  Minnesota has 3,000+ dairy farms and honors those in the industry with its own Dairy Princess.  There are numerous finalists from different counties around the state, and one princess is chosen to be Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  She and the other princesses serve as goodwill ambassadors for the dairy industry.  Since 1965 Linda Christensen has been spending each day of the fair in a 40 degree cooler carving a 90 pound block of butter into the likeness of Princess Kay and the 11 other princesses.  It takes Linda about six hours for each butter bust, requiring the princess and Linda to dress warmly and take breaks.  As the platform rotates inside the cooler, fair-goers can watch Linda’s skills and marvel at the sculptures she’s completed, all while savoring the malts, shakes, cones, and cheese curds that are sold right next to the cooler.  When the fair is complete, each princess gets to take home her own butter sculpture.  It is just one of the things that makes the Minnesota State Fair so special.

Lake como dawn 13853_StaatsYesterday’s cool rain cleared overnight, but left pockets of fog in some of the low-lying areas.  The stars came out with the promise of sunshine today.  I was up before dawn this morning and went to Lake Como.  The air was still — no wind to form ripples or waves across the lake, and the fog that was expected hadn’t settled in over the water.  Gradually the dawn sky was growing lighter.  The canoes and kayaks that are available for rent rested in place on the dock, waiting for today’s patrons.  The peace and quiet were a welcome relief from the busyness and crowds that are a short mile away converging on the Minnesota State fairgrounds.

Cannon Falls_13763 StaatsWe wandered south of the Twin Cities yesterday on a dreary, rainy Saturday.  August has been unusually wet with heavy downpours occurring frequently, resulting in high rivers and standing water in many fields.  All this was noticeable as we drove through the countryside, but it became more apparent on a stop in the town of Cannon Falls.  Here, the Little Cannon River flows alongside and through the town.  In a “normal” August, average rainfall for Cannon Falls is four inches.  To date this month they have had close to double that – almost eight inches.  And with yesterday’s rain continuing to fall, it was obvious as the river stretched out of its banks.  The falls were roaring and tossing the brown, sediment-filled water into the air as it tumbled toward the Cannon River which then flows on to the Mississippi River.

Cat in the morning_062146_627_StaatsThis past week started out with unusually hot temperatures and high humidity.  Everyone was staying inside and trying to keep cool in whatever way we could.  After about four or five days of heat, a storm moved through with heavy rain and wind, followed by a cool front behind it.  The next morning I was out for a walk in our neighborhood.  The lighter, cooler, fresher air was a welcome relief.  I walked over to Como Golf Course and spent a few minutes watching the sun clear the hills and trees.  People were out and about walking their dogs, running, and bicycling.  It was as if everyone was anxious to enjoy the cool of the morning and the promise of a new day.  I turned a corner and found this cat precariously seated on the house railing – as if he too was enjoying the morning and waiting to welcome the sunrise.

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