We’d met up with friends and family in the early evening and headed out for some fishing.  As my line and lure were not garnering any attention, I started watching the evening light.  The sun moved lower on the horizon, the bright blue of the sky toned down, and the white clouds soaked up the lovely pink of twilight.  Even the wind that had been blowing eventually stopped and the lake became like glass.  The island ahead of us was reflected in the lake, but the clouds seemed to surround us, above and below.  The light was fleeting, the colors left the sky, and dark settled in quickly.  (And yes, my line remained uninteresting to the fish, but I left the lake thankful for the twilight’s beauty and the company of family and good friends.)

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County road sunrise7D_13742_StaatsI awoke this morning before the sunrise, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door.  We were in Kansas for a family wedding.  The weather had been as perfect as is possible for August in Kansas – low humidity, sunshine, and temps in the 80’s.  But this morning the air was fresh and cooled, and the fog hung low in the valleys.  As I drove down gravel roads, the dust hung in the golden air and the sunlight glistened off the telephone lines and the grasses.  My nephew and his lovely bride were married in a garden setting yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.  It was lovely and it was just as they had hoped – a true expression of who they are individually and who they are as a couple.  As I was greeting the morning with an appreciation of the scenery and a new day, I was hoping that this first day of their life as husband and wife would be a beautiful omen of their future together.  Congrats to them; and I’m so proud of their family that has showered them with love.

Waterfall_Staats 13007We’ve just returned from a full week of traveling, bookmarked on each end with a graduation; one nephew’s college graduation and another nephew’s high school graduation (congrats to them both –  I couldn’t be more proud!).  The first part of the week found us in southern Missouri, south of Branson.  With all the rain that has fallen (including while we were there), everything is a beautiful and lush green.  The Ozark mountains were in their prime, and waterfalls were running full and fast.  In other areas, flowers were in full bloom – iris and peonies, foxglove and phlox.  We truly couldn’t have picked a better time for our trip.  It was a great time to explore the area with its natural beauty – a wonderful relaxing time.

Chapel and peonies_StaatsA day of celebration, a day of love, filled with spirits, memories, honor, remembrance, a nod to the past, and a step to the future.  A chapel designed by my father, bouquets of peonies to honor my mother, an intimate gathering of family and friends – a celebration to remember!

House of memories_StaatsThis has been a week of reflection for me.  Those of you that have followed my blog the past few years know that my parents passed away within a few months of each other two years ago.  The house that they moved into when I was three years old was the house that they shared until their deaths.  The first owners of this house and the first house built on the block, they moved in with the dreams of their life together and the dreams of building a family.  The house was the shell that was filled with the shared experiences of my parents, my two brothers, and myself as we all grew up.  This home expanded to include grandparents, in-laws, grandchildren, and friends way too numerous to count.  As the family grew, so too the house grew with additions designed by my father the architect.  And with each addition and change, the new rooms were filled to the brim with more memories and love.  The once new “stick-tree” in the front yard has matured and extends over the entire yard and house, its arms having held so many of us as we climbed up its branches.   Each person who passed over the threshold knew they were welcomed with the large arms my parents opened.  The house has now been passed on to the second owner in its 58 years.  But I know that the house is only a structure; the people are the ones that made it a home.  The memories and stories of the family and friends that have been a part of the structure will continue in our family throughout the generations that follow.

White rose 12131_StaatsThe color white evokes so many feelings and emotions.  For those on the east coast, white is the color of the snow that has enveloped their area.  For brides it is the color of newness and purity.  For funerals it is the color of new life and light.  As we celebrated the life of a family member recently departed, we were surrounded by flowers and plants of many colors and scents.  The white roses seemed to be strong and yet tender all at the same time.  A symbol of hope and love, circling around and around as the petals unfold from the bud.

Farmland snow_Staats 12034A new year — new ideas, new hopes, new resolutions.  Or maybe not.  As I look back on last year I realize that sometimes the most memorable times were the ones that were unplanned.  They came about, perhaps with a seed of thought, but they developed into something wonderful.  One grandson, then a second grandson, a marriage proposal, friends near and far, and family that came to visit.  This year I have many things to look forward to: two family weddings (one which is my own!), a honeymoon, a nephew’s college graduation, followed by his brother’s high school graduation.  Yesterday we took a drive through the Wisconsin countryside.  We had a general idea where we were headed, but the route developed as we wandered.  We found undulating hills and valleys in dairy country, fields of fresh snow, a creek where the hoarfrost was still evident in the late morning,  and a military veteran who was brought to tears when we thanked him for his service in World War II.  All these adventures came about because we were present in the day and 0pen to the discoveries that developed.  My wish for the new year is to be open to all that each day offers, and embrace it fully – life, friends, family, adventures, and memories.