It’s a dark and sad time in Minnesota this week.  Tensions have risen, actions have been taken, people have been hurt, and everyone is in a state of shock.  Our state is filled with a wonderful diversity of people which adds to the richness of this place.  We are proud of our lakes, our rivers, our towns and cities.  We take on the challenge of hard winters that linger late into spring, snowfalls that bury is in feet of snow, and subzero temperatures that settle in for weeks.  Now we are facing the challenge of grieving losses – loss of life, loss of property, loss of respect.   Sadly there are business owners, apartment dwellers, and many people that have had their places burned and have been displaced through no fault of their own.  The losses are many and spread throughout our cities.  We are mourning and many of us are saddened that our state has been rocked by the extent and severity of this week’s events, and it will take time for us to mend.

Change is inevitable in life.  We will grieve and struggle, and we will get through this, and I sincerely hope that this week’s news gets replaced with hope and understanding, love and respect.

Yellow of summer 13640_StaatsToday we are on the cusp of the last month of our meteorological summer.  As I’m getting ready to turn the page of the calendar to August, it’s not something I want to do, but yet it is reality.  These yellows of summer will soon be fading, much as our daylight hours are already diminishing.  Yet, I remind myself that change is good and often we must go through change to get to something better.  Without the cold and snow of winter, we would not have the beautiful forests and trees that grace our state.  Ten years ago I moved to Minnesota – truly a huge change after living 30 years in Washington state.  I am amazed at the things I’ve seen and learned, and humbled by the changes in my life.  I’ve learned that a mid-west winter can be survived (and embraced) with temperatures that remain below zero; that frozen lakes can be driven on; that hockey can be played on those same frozen lakes; that there are small little “houses” that spring up on those frozen lakes where people ice fish; that a horizon line that goes off into the distance as far as I can see holds immense beauty and openness; that thunderstorms can be as beautiful as they are sometimes destructive; and that the colors of autumn are intense and beautiful, yet they can’t be timed to the calendar each year.  But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that life continues and we adjust – we can chose to adapt and embrace those changes and live our lives fully.  My life has become bigger with all those changes and new experiences, and I know that there will be more in the future ahead, just like the inevitable change in the seasons.

Wind and fall color_Staats 7154We are in the glorious midst of fall – the change of seasons from summer to winter.  One day we have bright sunshine and the next day is cool and cloudy, and throughout them all the colors of our landscape continue to change.  So too I’m reminded of the changes in our lives.  It was a year ago that my father passed away and that was a change I was not prepared for.  But I’ve come to realize that change is the one constant in life.  With three deaths in the family, a change in jobs, a kitchen remodel, and a different car, I sometimes wonder if I recognize my life anymore.  But I’ve learned something with each change, and I know that the best way to honor my father is to live the values that he helped to instill in me.  He laid the basis for my sense of adventure and my joy in being outdoors in nature – two of the traits I enjoy so much in my photography.  As I was photographing this slough the air would be still, and then the wind would come up.  It caused the water to ripple across the surface and the cattails to dance in front of me.  The movement and the colors of the trees were all a glorious celebration of change.