laka-mary-sunset-14756_staatsThis was a weekend of rest and relaxation at the lake.  I’m fortunate to have a group of friends that find camaraderie and restoration together at one woman’s cabin near Alexandria.  The beer was cold, the food was great, and the conversation flowed easily.  It was a time for all of us to unwind, share the events of our lives, and reconnect since our last time together.  Even better was the fact that our weather was warm and clear – unusual for this time in November.  Friday evening I found myself drawn to the lake.  There was no wind, the sun was slowly sinking into the western sky, and a beautiful wisp of clouds was reflected in the glass-like surface of the lake.  The water was so clear I could see the rocks below the surface at my feet.  All was silent, and all was right with this natural world.  As I marveled at the beauty and gave thanks for my friends and my life right now, a loon gave out its characteristic cry in the middle of the lake.  It seemed to be a reminder that nature can always be a place for us to recharge, refresh, and find a restorative place amidst all the outside influences that work to distract us and try to wear us down.

Hoarfrost sunrise_Staats 11721I’ve just returned from a weekend with a collection of girlfriends – time spent relaxing, sharing, and getting caught up.  We were outside of Alexandria, Minnesota in the central part of the state.  The seasons are changing quickly and while we have no snow in the Twin Cities, there is snow on the landscape in Alexandria where the temperatures have remained below freezing.  Gravel roads that once gave up dust are becoming hard and frozen.  Lakes are forming ice from the shorelines inward, and the progress is noticeable from day-to-day.  I awoke early this morning to photograph, and stepped out into a wonderland of hoarfrost.  The trees and vegetation were covered with frost – all outlined in white, and the colors of the sunrise shone on the eastern horizon as day was breaking.  A boat had been hauled out of the lake and was in its winter’s resting place, far from the shoreline.  In the distance I could hear geese as they were headed south in search of open waters.  The change of seasons was clearly noticeable this morning as we are moving closer to the heart of winter.

Lake Mary sunset 9434_StaatsA sure cure for stress is a weekend trip to a lake up north.  Add in a group of wonderful friends and a cabin on a lake and everyone comes away in better spirits.  It was ladies weekend on Lake Mary, south of Alexandria.  We got out of our cars on Friday night, walked into the cabin and left our stress behind.  From then on it was relaxing, laughing, resting, and sharing — it was decompression of the best kind.  Throw in a beautiful sunset with the slightest of water ripple near the shore, a sky full of twinkling stars, a deck overlooking the lake with the warmth of the sun on our backs, and wonderful conversation; five friends found it hard to pull ourselves away today to return to the cities and our upcoming Monday.