Fall seems to have quickly passed over us.  The vibrant colors peaked and the leaves fell and blanketed the ground and hillsides.  The temperatures dipped below freezing and already the first snowfall arrived with its big fluffy flakes.

Images like this one help me to remember the beauty that we enjoyed for what seemed such a short time this year — the deep golds and yellows, the burgundys and browns of the oak trees, and the blue of the sky with the billowing clouds.  I can look at this scene and remember the warmth of the sun and the smell of fall.

Now the trees are bare, preserving their resources for the cold winter months ahead.  The colorful leaves that fell to the ground are brown and crunch and crinkle underfoot.  And soon our landscapes will become white with snow as winter settles in.

We’re now in the midst of the fall season, surrounded by vibrant and glorious colors. Each day brings something new – a tree whose leaves have turned overnight or a tree whose leaves have dropped to the ground.  Fall is correctly referred to as the season of change and this year that change seems to be especially dominated by the colors of yellow and gold.  The colors are vibrant when painted with sunshine against a bright blue sky and they stand out amidst a gray sky.  And once those lovely yellow and gold leaves have dried and fallen to the ground, they crunch and crackle under the weight of shoes and boots.

Our short season of fall asks me to admire and appreciate it each day.

Like many other people, I’ve been feeling the bombardment of so many things that are happening in our lives.  I’ve been kept awake at night thinking about the divisiveness that exists in my country, my state, and my city.  I’ve lost sleep over the strange happenings of weather – fires in the west that are too huge to imagine the destruction that’s being caused, feet of rain falling from hurricanes making landfall, and the vegetation changes happening here in Minnesota and Wisconsin that’s affecting our wildlife populations of moose, deer, and loons.  Then there are the worries of a continuing pandemic that has  killed hundreds of thousands here in the US – a number that has already surpassed the combined US combat deaths of World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War; the pain sometimes seems too much to fathom.

For me, turning to nature is a balm over these anxieties.  Each morning the earth has completed it’s turn, the darkness of night fades, and the sun returns again.  The leaves are now beginning their color change as the calendar approaches autumn.  I stand out on the dock where the lake temperature has cooled after the heat of summer but is now warmer than the outside air temperature in the early dawn.  The steam rises off the lake, the sun rises over the horizon, and in the distance I can hear the geese calling.  Soon they will be leaving this area and migrating south.  The air temperature will continue to fall as we slide into winter, and the lake will ice over as our days grow shorter and shorter.  And then slowly all these things will reverse.  These are the constants I’m trying to focus on and appreciate.

Springtime – a season of change, a season of hope, and a season of color.  I’ve always looked forward to spring and its warmth and beauty.  In Minnesota spring seems to condense and then open up all in a small time period.  It’s as if you can literally watch the grass become green and the leaves pop out from the buds on the trees.  Everything draws deep into the color palettes as Mother Nature wakes up from winter.  One of my favorite flowers are tulips with all their styles and hues, colors and textures.  They are the precursor to the abundance of late spring and summer and all the rich colors that follow.  On a dreary day they can be the one bright spot in the garden.  And on a sunny day they glow as their colors are set off by the warmth and brilliance of the sun.

As we are all social distancing and staying at home, our world is dominated by our views looking out.  Many of us have become observers of the transition of seasons, the angle of the sun coming through our windows, and our neighbors that pass by walking their dogs.  It’s good to look out to recognize and confirm that winter moves into spring, the sun continues to rise, and our neighbors are still in our neighborhood.  That’s what gives us a sense of normalcy in these uncertain times.

This photo takes a different approach and looks inside from the outside.  The sunlight streams through the window, lighting the vase amidst the darkness behind it.  Shadows are created across the curtain by the window frame.  The lace is delicate and beautiful, set off against the coarse texture of the wall.  Perhaps our inside worlds are just as beautiful now as the outside world, if we take a moment to observe and appreciate where we are at this moment and what surrounds us.

We have transitioned from fall to winter quickly.  The colors are gone, the air is cold, and the landscape is very neutral.  How quickly I’m missing the yellows, golds, reds, and deep burgundies that we experienced just a few short weeks ago!  The waters are already beginning to ice up and we have seen snow although it has not stayed.  Yet.  I needed one more post with brilliant colors before I could put fall behind me.

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.

We are experiencing our transition season as winter slowly gives way to spring.  In northern Minnesota and Wisconsin it means give and take –  warmer temps one day and snow the next.  But our waters are starting to thaw, allowing open water for the birds that are beginning to migrate into the area.  The oak trees are holding onto their rust-colored leaves, and the air has been heavy with moisture creating some foggy conditions.  It almost seems like fall but this time we know there will be green in the landscape and ice-free lakes and ponds soon.

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!

The seasons move quickly from spring into summer and this year seems to have moved faster than normal.  Everything has turned to a beautiful bright green — the color of new growth, late spring, and early summer.  We’ve had enough rain to keep things fresh and the heat hasn’t set in yet.  This graceful fern was backlit in the garden, accentuating each leaf and its lovely color.  Its beauty was stunning, and I also know it will be fleeting as the green will become darker and not nearly as bright.  It’s a reminder to me to appreciate the season and the time we’re in now as it changes ever-so-quickly and what we see today will not be the same tomorrow.