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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It’s summer today – hot, humid and muggy.  But in the shade in our backyard I got lost in some everyday petunias.  With their bright purple and white they add welcome color to the summer greens and yellows.  I began photographing the mass of petunias, but as I got in closer  I was captured by their fragile thin petals that blossom out from small stems of green.  Their stickiness and tiny hairs catch any small bugs that are near.  The blossoms  are short-lived and will be shriveled tomorrow and dry by the next, but they are a beautiful burst of color and joy when it’s their moment to shine.

On a recent bicycle ride through the countryside, I saw this common scene – freshly cut hay bales scattered across a field, blue sky and clouds overhead.  Here in Minnesota we’ve had more than our usual amount of rain, leaving the landscape lush and green.  The hay harvest has been done and appears to be plentiful.  Unfortunately some of our neighboring states have been battling severe drought, decimating their hay fields and other crops.  Like the help that was given earlier this year to farmers in Kansas and Oklahoma, many people are offering their hay to those suffering in North and South Dakota that have none.  A wonderful reminder of the good that takes place and yet is often overlooked.

August began as it should, sunny and hot – the epitome of a Minnesota summer’s day.  The perfect ending to an August day is a lake and ice cream.  We were lucky enough to have both the lake and a DQ close by in the Cities.  As kids played in the water by the swimming beach, we noticed more and more people coming to the lake as the sunset approached.  A storm was developing to the northwest and the clouds began to move in, but luckily they held off long enough for the sun to give up a last hurrah, light up the sky and clouds, and reflect its brilliant colors in the surface of the lake.  A group cruised by on their pontoon boat as we sat on a bench and enjoyed our ice cream, the cool breeze coming off the lake, and the beauty of the day’s end.

We spent yesterday exploring the backroads and lakes of western Wisconsin.  It was a beautiful summer’s day and the countryside was verdantly green due to recent rains.  As we were traveling down a county road I saw a large field of yellow.  As I ventured out in the waist-tall grasses and flowers I realized the field was filled with wildflowers.  These prairie coneflowers were high above the others, and they swayed in the wind.  Scattered around them were ox-eye flowers and bee balm.  I was in the middle of a sea of color and beauty.  The bees were busy moving amongst the blossoms and the wind rustled the flowers enough to make they appear to be dancing across the field.  It was a true representation of summer in all her glory.

The heat and humidity built throughout the day.  As evening approached the sun and blue skies gave way to towering white thunderhead clouds to the south.  Quickly the darker clouds moved in, the sky took on an eerie gun-metal gray and gold, and the wind grew still.  I wandered through the cornfields watching and listening.  In a short period of time there was lightning in the area.  I erred on the side of caution and decided a woman with a tripod in the middle of a cornfield with lightning around was not a good idea.  Within minutes of that decision, the winds picked up and the rain came down.

The heat of July has brought the summer flowers to bloom in our gardens.  The coneflowers, rudbeckia, and bee balm are filling the yard with color.  As I was watching the bees flit back and forth among the bee balm blossoms I looked more closely at the flower.  What I saw was a “Medusa” of flowers –  unkept and wild, throwing its scent into the air to attract the bees.  And yet, that wildness had a unique beauty all its own – nature in her glory, whether neat and tidy or unkept and original, all serving a purpose.