Take a rainstorm that makes everything wet, drop the temperature so the rain changes to sleet, the sleet changes to ice, and then drop the temperature more and it snows.  And the snow clings to everything – the branches, the oak leaves, the pine trees, the sedges.  Our world became a winter wonderland with everything coated with white snow.  It was stunning, and it was so easy to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature in winter.

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I am amazed at the sights and experiences I’ve enjoyed in the past year of 2018.  I’ve chosen one photo from each month to help me remember all the adventures I’ve had and all the beauty and marvels I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.

Here’s wishing you a new year of joy and loveliness, adventures to take you down paths you haven’t been before, and an appreciation for the world around us and the people accompanying us on our journey.

These are the days of long shadows.  As we get closer to the winter solstice the sun is lower in the sky as the earth tilts.  In Minnesota and Wisconsin we are north of the 45th parallel so “our tilt” seems more noticeable.  This photo was taken at noon, but my shadow is nowhere close to being right beneath me as it is in the summer.  Instead the sun is only 123 degrees above the horizon, elongating my shadow.

This is our winter — longer shadows, shorter days, colder temperatures.

There is a small diner/restaurant in the neighborhood where we live.  I pass it almost every day when I’m out for a walk.  The window glass reflects the fallen leaves and their textures, along with the empty bike rack by the street, onto the plates and the table top.  Although the diner isn’t open when I go by it’s comforting to see the dishes and silverware and napkins sitting on the tables waiting for someone’s arrival… just as we are waiting for the upcoming holidays, winter, and snow with the turn of the calendar to December..

Backlit blowing snow 21409_StaatsDawn broke early with a fresh white snowfall.  The sun traveled upwards but the dark clouds to the east were moving in.  They seemed to curtain off the sunlight and it streamed onto the snow-covered lake.  With a sudden gust, the wind blew the resting snow off the tree branches and it cascaded to the ground, backlit by the sun.  It was momentary and it was breath taking –  all in a split second.

After a week or more with below freezing temperatures, we reveled in a day of 40 degrees and sunshine.  I took advantage of our “heat wave” and went for a long walk that took me through Como Park.  As I went past the lake it was wonderful to see the snow and ice patterns.  The dark areas in the photograph are clear ice, interrupted by the white snow that had been blown across the lake.  There were lots of big cracks going through the surface too.  Once we get back to our cold temperatures, the ice will continue to form….all a part of winter in Minnesota.

My dad – Stan Staats – who served in the Korean war.

Thanks to all our country’s veterans.  It’s a small word, but it is heartfelt.