fall-colors-of-the-north-woods-14278_staatsIf you’re lucky enough to be in the North Woods of Minnesota at the peak of fall color, you can’t help but be amazed.  It may be fleeting, and its peak appearance can’t be written onto the calendar months in advance, but this year we had the great fortune of being in the right place at the right time.  We spent a few days in central Itasca County, near Jack the Horse Lake.  The area is part of the Chippewa National Forest and is filled with county and forest roads that meander through the hills, the trees, and around the numerous lakes.  We caught ourselves pointing out beautiful vistas around almost every turn.  The colors were brilliant, whether the sun was shining and the sky was blue, or the skies were overcast.  While we were there, the temperatures plummeted to below freezing and we even encountered some early-season sleet and snow showers, but it was worth the extra layers of clothing to be filled with awe and appreciation at the landscape and colors around us.

Reflections Jack the Horse Lake_Staats 10636I wanted to share another image from our vacation in northern Minnesota.  I am always amazed at the light when we are in this area.  Perhaps it’s because the sky appears so large and the lakes help to reflect all the light that’s around.  This particular evening the sun was getting lower in the western sky, slanting to the east.  It cast a golden glow on the trees along Jack the Horse Lake.  The clouds to the south were a luminous white and pink, dusted with the glow of the setting sun.  And the calmness of the evening allowed the colors to be reflected in the smooth lake surface – a scene that still takes my breath away.  Calmness, light, stillness, luminosity, and beauty.

Flaming sunset 10613_StaatsWe just returned from some R&R in the north woods of Minnesota –  a small cabin at Jack the Horse Resort, north of Marcell.  When we first arrived, the summer heat and humidity were plainly evident – shorts and T-shirts were required, along with a dip in the lake.  The second day there was a thunderstorm that moved through in the afternoon, clearing about an hour before sunset.  As the clouds moved off to the east, the late sun splashed them with vivid colors, and the brilliance of the sky was reflected in the still waters of Jack the Horse Lake.  The following day marked a cooling trend, and three days later we were wearing our long underwear and jackets as the north wind blew and the temps were down in the 30’s at night.  The trip included successful fishing, glorious blue skies, an appreciation of the forests and woods, and even a night where we watched the Northern Lights dance above the lake.

Dawn over Jack the Horse Lake_StaatsLast week I shared a sunset photo from our northern vacation.  As beautiful as the sunsets were, I was equally amazed at the sunrises.  We were staying on Jack the Horse Lake – a quiet lake with only a few cabins and houses and only one resort.  The stillness of the morning, while the sun was yet to rise, was wonderful.  The air was calm and the lake’s surface was like a sheet of glass.  Off in the distance I could hear an owl making its presence known, and eventually the loons would add to the chorus.  Slowly the sky would turn from black to a deep rose color, then to a pale pink and eventually to a brightness of yellow as the sun cleared the horizon and the distant shore, all the while reflected in the mirror-like lake surface.  It was a wondrous and delightful way to greet the day.