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.

The past three weeks we’ve had a Friday snowfall, and each one has been different.  One was wet and sloppy, one was a dusting of dry snow, and another was driven from the north.  This one painted the trees on one side only, outlining them from the wind direction.  Birch and aspen that are generally white had an extra coating of brighter white on the north.  With a cloudy sky overhead, this color photograph became a black and white scene without any alterations.  Each of these snows have been short-lived as they’ve been followed by warmer temperatures and sometimes rain.  But as the months progress, we know there will soon be the snow that stays and is increased with each storm – all the way until next spring.

We’re languishing still in winter – short days, colder than normal temperatures, gray skies, brown ground.  This beautiful splash of purple iris caught my eye at the store last week.  Flowers! Color! Spring! – all in one compact bouquet.  It was an instant “shot” of what I needed.  The promise of spring is still ahead; yes, there will be blue skies, sunshine, the scents of spring, and the colors of flowers –  somewhere ahead of the snow expected later today.

winter-trees-on-the-hill-7d15809_staatsThe temperature dropped and winter came back to Minnesota during the past mid-week.  The blue skies and hope of spring were delayed and side tracked by a fast-moving front that dropped snow and brought back winter’s cold winds.  The gray sky that accompanied this snow seemed gloomier than usual, perhaps because of the desire for spring.  But as I wandered the hills, listening to the rattling of the oak leaves in the wind, I saw a brief opening in the clouds – just long enough for a shaft of light to come through and give hope again for an eventual departure of winter.

snow-sculptures_winter-carnival_15600-staatsAfter a week of gloomy, dreary skies a beautiful blue appeared today to help Saint Paul celebrate it’s Winter Carnival.  With temps in the 20’s, hundreds of people were dressed warmly, soaking up the Vitamin D, and enjoying the snow sculptures that were completed for the carnival.  Perhaps because we’re all longing for warmer climates, this sculpture titled “Under A Rest,” received the Peoples Choice Award.  Complete with cacti and little gophers popping up from the ground, the cowboy seemed quite content to take a long winter’s nap in his frozen state.

autumn-sunrise-como-park_14461-staatsOur fall temperatures have continued, and last Friday dawned with a noticeable crispness in the air.  The wind was still at this early hour, and the sun was just starting to reflect off the clouds above as it made its way over the horizon.  At Como Park I was able to find a perfect spot to take in the sunrise.  A small pond on the golf course captured the reflection of the clouds above, and the silhouettes of the trees.  Some trees still have their leaves while others have lost them to the autumn winds, and the grasses are in full bloom – their swan song before winter moves in.  This season seems to be the shortest one, no matter how hard we try to hold onto the fall colors.

Cannon Falls_13763 StaatsWe wandered south of the Twin Cities yesterday on a dreary, rainy Saturday.  August has been unusually wet with heavy downpours occurring frequently, resulting in high rivers and standing water in many fields.  All this was noticeable as we drove through the countryside, but it became more apparent on a stop in the town of Cannon Falls.  Here, the Little Cannon River flows alongside and through the town.  In a “normal” August, average rainfall for Cannon Falls is four inches.  To date this month they have had close to double that – almost eight inches.  And with yesterday’s rain continuing to fall, it was obvious as the river stretched out of its banks.  The falls were roaring and tossing the brown, sediment-filled water into the air as it tumbled toward the Cannon River which then flows on to the Mississippi River.

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.

Summer from the hammock_13599 StaatsLike most, my three-day weekend has been filled with various activities and events.  Places to go, people to see, things to do.  We enjoyed dinner and a musical at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.  We clocked off the miles on a summer’s day bike ride on the Cannon Valley Trail between Red Wing and Cannon Falls.  We did yard work and house work.  But with the perfect blue skies and summer temperatures, I made sure to pencil in some time to relax.  With a baseball game on the radio, a lovely breeze blowing through the back yard, blue skies and sun, it was the perfect time to relax on the hammock.  A clearing of the mind from the work-day routines and a nod to what we love about summer.   When the cold, the snow, and the darkness of winter are howling outside, these summer days are the ones that keep our spirits up.

Lilacs 12914_StaatsNot only has spring blossomed into our visual senses, but it has now spread its delightful scents throughout the air.  With a few days of warming temperatures the lilacs quickly burst into bloom.  How wonderful to be stopped in my tracks when their scent was being carried by the light breeze across the yard!  To me, that is the true sign of spring’s arrival and the dismissal of the dark of winter.