Last weekend was especially cold.  Temperatures dropped and the wind blew.  The snow that had fallen remained, and the lake was frozen.  Walking along the shoreline, I saw this leaf resting on the ice.  As the time went by I saw frost forming all along its edges, outlining it carefully as if Mother Nature was painting each crystal in its place –  so delicate, and yet so very temporary too.

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.

Winter waves Cannon Lake 12691_StaatsWe made a day trip south to Faribault Minnesota yesterday.  The day dawned with a dusting of snow, and a front moving through, prompting strong northerly winds up to 45 mph.  Not a problem for driving south….As we were following along the southern shore of Cannon Lake, I was amazed at the whitecaps rolling across the water.  I have never seen that much wind blowing over the open water.  But then my eye caught the southern shoreline where the wind-blown waves were crashing.  Because of the cold temperatures, the water was freezing along the trees and bushes.  Everything was coated in ice, and even some of the icicles were leaning towards the south because of the incessant winds.  As cold and windy as yesterday was, the pendulum of spring swung the other way today and we enjoyed sunshine and 60’s, with no signs of ice.

Sunset Como Lake 12536_StaatsA couple of days with temperatures in the 30s and 40s makes Minnesotans think of spring.  I was at Como Lake last night and the evidence was everywhere –  people walking, running, biking the perimeter path; cars driving by and splashing all the snow melt water that was standing in the road; and an outdoor event at the Pavilion across the lake – complete with music and cheering.  The temperature was 42, but it was easy to imagine a warm(er) spring day.  There is open water on the lake, and what ice remains is becoming thinner and slushier.  Ducks and geese were flying overhead, coming into the lake, swimming, and then taking flight again.  The sunset lit up the clouds in the western sky, and the thin ice allowed the sky’s reflection and beauty to be repeated below.  Eventually spring will come, and stay, but it’s a bit too early just yet.

Open water and ice 11812.2_Staats (1 of 1)We’ve fluctuated between winter and warmer seasons (whether fall or seemingly spring), all in the scope of one week.  After a lovely snowfall last Monday, our temperatures have risen and stayed above freezing.  All ice that had formed is losing its grip.  As if reaching its long fingers out to try to hold on, the cracks are evident.  The lines between open water and ice are quickly diminishing.  Good for the birds, and those people who favor warmer temperatures for winter; bad for those that revel in our winter snow and cold.

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.

Spring dawn over Lake Johanna 9247_StaatsSpring has been fickle here in Minnesota.  From cold to snow to rain to warm – we’ve had a bit of everything this week.   I’ve already heard the welcome return of the red-winged blackbirds singing, and the lake ice has started to diminish.  I was at Lake Johanna yesterday before sunrise. The winter air was crisp and cold at 19 degrees when it hit my face and hands as I got out of the car, but my ears could hear the geese and the ducks that were splashing in the open water near the shoreline, and in the distance a woodpecker’s repetitive hammering was contributing to the song.  With all this cacophony the sun was illuminating the eastern sky in pinks and orange.  It seems that everything is in anxious anticipation of the season of spring.