Kauffman Stadium Staats CP-294The Fourth of July is celebrated many ways, and this year for me that meant family.  We made a trip to the Kansas City area to spend the weekend with family and friends; that meant good barbeque, cold beers, a summer sunset over a field of wildflowers, an orange full moon rising in the east, catching up with friends, a boat ride on a local lake, and even a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium between the KC Royals and the Minnesota Twins.  The series is always a good one, and on this night we celebrated a Twins win followed by a huge fireworks show at the stadium.  So many things to be proud of on July 4th, and so many things and people to be thankful for too.

Summer sunrise over the lake_StaatsWe arose in the dark early yesterday morning and headed north to one of our favorite little lakes.  With the boat in tow, loaded with fishing and camera gear, we were set for a summer outing.  We had only just headed out from the landing when the sun cleared the horizon and broke over the tree line.  The clouds reflected the colors of the sun, and the reflection came alive in the surface of the lake – both in the calm water, and in the wake behind the boat.  This glorious sunrise was only a prelude to the rest of the day.  We had packed a breakfast to enjoy on the boat in our “lake with a view.”  The fishing was good; we caught a mess of crappies and sunfish (some of the best lake fish for eating).  The morning remained pleasantly cool, and we marveled at the sandhill cranes that passed overhead and the loons that called from another area of the lake.  Before we knew it, a full six hours had passed.  After the trip home to unload and shower, we then headed to the Minnesota Twins baseball game (another rite of summer).  The crowd enjoyed a well-played game under the summer sky, and celebrated the Twins’ win after the sun had set.  One full day with two of my favorite summer past-times;  I can’t help but feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy all of this.

On a beautiful late-spring afternoon I was lucky enough to have tickets to the Minnesota Twins baseball game against the LA Angels.  Even better was that I got to go early to see the Twins’ batting practice.  The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and our hopes were up for a win that night.  After the Twins’ batting practice was over the Angels came out for their warm up.  As the sun was moving lower into the sky it created dark shadows from the stadium deck that stretched across the outfield.  For awhile it seemed most of the action was anywhere but in left field, as these three players seemed quite content to rest on their bats, soak up the sun, and cast long shadows over the green turf.  In the end, the Angels beat the Twins.  But I’ve learned that baseball isn’t just about wins and losses –  it had been a beautiful afternoon and night for a baseball game.

Yesterday it was me and 234,383 of my best friends spending a cool summer’s day at the Minnesota State Fair and setting a record for single-day attendance.   The Minnesota State Fair is the second-largest State Fair in the country.  With the fairgrounds covering 320 acres it’s imperative to allow at least one day to see your favorite things.  There’s the Mighty Midway with its games and carnival rides, the food, the Giant Slide, Machinery Hill, the food, the animals, the exhibits, the Space Tower, the Grandstand, and the food.  We refer to the Fair as the Great Minnesota Get-Together, and we celebrate with friends and food.  Anything and everything is available on a stick, from fried pickles to pronto pups.  For many the Fair is a day of grazing from one food booth to the next.  I especially enjoyed the animal barns.  The pigs that weren’t being shown in competition were sleeping lazily, the sounds of the roosters were echoing off the walls in their building, and the goats were busy nibbling on the shirts of the passers-by.  People who attend the fair are always in a good mood, as are the vendors, and the employees at the fair.  Even the woman at the information booth who helped me three different times — she too was in a good mood.  I even found two special friends from the Minnesota Twins – Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau – who “stood still” while I had my photo taken with them.  What a great ending to a fine day at the Fair!

As we headed into the first day of spring, the week seemed to have been filled with ups and downs.  Our weather has bounced from 60’s to 40’s, from spring to winter.  My favorite NCAA basketball team, the Jayhawks of Kansas University were up and then down, causing my brackets to bleed red.  But today has ended the week on an up note.  The Minnesota Twins held an open house for their season-ticket holders and we had the opportunity to see the brand new Target Field.  Just like someone getting dressed up for company, the skies were blue, the sun was warm, and we learned the stadium is a gem!  From our seats near the first base foul pole to the upper deck to the clear image on the scoreboard to the speaker system that you can actually understand — it’s all good.  And to add icing on the cake, we’ve learned that our home-town MVP Joe Mauer has agreed to a contract extension.  The team is looking good, and now our new stadium is almost done.  Spring is in the air when you know opening day for baseball is just around the corner!