summer


We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas.  Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads.  It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour.  We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans.  The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter.  The sunsets were beautiful like this one –  fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above.  The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival.  It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.

The nights have a bit of coolness to them now, and the sunshine isn’t quite as hot as it was earlier this month.  Our daylight is becoming noticeably shorter as we move closer to fall.  The skies are filled with Canada geese flying over, strengthening the wings of the young ones as they prepare for migrating south; their honking fills the air.  I noticed these sedum blossoms the other day with spots of color in them.  They too are responding to the fast approaching change in the seasons.

I watched in amazement at this tiny hummingbird as he flitted among the bee balm blossoms in the yard.  He would work all around the edges of one flower, fly off to an adjacent flower and do the same, then to another and another.  After about a minute he would land on a nearby branch and rest.  And then he’d repeat the same thing all over again, sometimes moving to a blooming hosta and then back to the bee balm, or sometimes to a clump of catmint nearby, and retreating back to the bee balm.  It was a treat to observe and marvel at something so very small with all this energy.

It’s a true summer’s day –  blue sky above with white patchy clouds, and the sun is beating down with its warmth.  We are driving along some county roads in northern Wisconsin.  We’ve passed fields of green soybeans and acres of corn, all thriving in spite of the late planting season and the copious amounts of rain this year.  But up ahead is a bright and welcome sight — at an intersection there is a sea of yellow on one side of the road.  It stretches off to the trees in the distance, and it is a glorious field of sunflowers.  Faces to the east, backlit by the sun, the large blossoms are nodding in the wind.  To me this is the epitome of summer, and I’ll soak it in to remember during the not-so-summery days that lie ahead.

As we enter the last third of summer, our lakes in Minnesota and Wisconsin are starting to bloom with water lilies.  Looking across the water surface you can see areas of white and yellow.  We’ve seen muskrats enjoying a meal of water lilies, and deer will also wade into the water to graze on them.  This water lily is not endanger of being eaten as I photographed it at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  Like its “wild” relatives it was happy to open its petals to the bright sun and soak up the trailing end of summer.

Sometimes photographs present themselves directly — a beautiful sunset reflected in a lake, or a lovely flower that opens its blossoms to reveal its textures and colors.  And other times a photograph can be more subtle, calling out for attention many times before it’s actually received.  I walked past this shed countless times, looking at it but not really noticing it.  And then one morning the sunlight came in from an angle and illuminated the oars and paddle with a lovely glow.  That’s when I saw it.  The oars with their oar locks are weather beaten and old; they show their wear and tear proudly.  The paddle lost its paint many years ago and is actually cracked at the bottom.  The collection struck me as a homage to summer days, old boats, old resorts, and probably some big fishing tales.

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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