There’s something mesmerizing about the approach of a storm.  During the summer in the upper Midwest we get waves of high humidity – the air is so filled with moisture it’s dense and thick.  The humidity and heat build until they set off storms.  Lately we seem to have weekly storms accompanied by thunder and lightning, hail, and strong winds.

There are so many unknowns with an approaching storm – will it be just rain, will it pass by quickly or stall overhead, will it create damage anywhere in its path, will it build and get worse or will it dissipate, and when will it be overhead.  I find the anticipation before a storm moves through fascinating and beautiful.  This storm was building for about a half-hour.  The white thunderclouds at the far end of the lake stayed to the south as the darker clouds rolled over the lake.  The wind quieted and the air was eerie with the stillness.  Within ten minutes the rain started, big drops at first and then a downpour.  And after another ten minutes the storm had moved out of the area, this time leaving only rain.

The storm brought wind, rain, and hail and it seemed to stop as quickly as it started.  This had been the third or fourth storm to roll through in as many days.  But as the dark clouds moved further east and the skies began to clear, there was a brilliant rainbow that arced across the sky and was reflected in the still lake surface below.  This was our “reward” for getting through the storms, and with all the uncertainties that are in our day-to-day lives this was truly the brighter side.

I recently purchased a kayak – nothing fancy, just a hard plastic one that I can take out on the lake.  I don’t have to worry about beaching it or scratching the hull, but it allows me to explore and enjoy the lake and the shoreline at an up-close and leisurely pace.

I’ve enjoyed watching deer and small fawns along the bank of the lake, turtles that are quickly diving into the weeds, fish that are swimming in the clear and warm summer water, eagles overhead that swoop down into the lake and rise again with a fish in their talons, and loons that cruise the lake then disappear as they dive for their meals.  I’ve been mesmerized by the still lake surface in the early morning when the water is like a sheet of glass reflecting the clouds overhead, the whitecaps that ripple across the lake when the wind comes rushing through the channel, and the quietness of evening as the sun descends behind the trees to the west while the moon rises in the east.

I will never grow tired of nature and all that it offers up to us, no matter the season.

A week ago there was a lovely full moonrise.  I stood by the lake and waited for the moon to clear the hill and the trees on the opposite shoreline.  The wind slowly settled down, and there was a lovely quiet that wrapped around me.  The waves calmed and the lake became still.  Then the moon appeared – large and pearl colored, and as it rose it seemed that the tops of the trees were supporting it and offering it up to the night sky.  I watched and then my ears picked up the haunting call of a loon at the other end of the lake.  It all seemed a perfect rite of spring, and I savored this respite from the many worries of the world right now.

The last few weeks have brought a world of differences to many of us — a new physical view from the inside looking out; a new vocabulary that includes medical terms of pandemics, viruses, curves, ventilators, and COVID-19; an appreciation for things that previously we’d taken for granted; and a feeling that the world’s turned upside down.  With the barrage of news and seemingly constant updates it’s hard to look too far forward.  Like many, I’m trying to take things one day at a time.  Today the sun is shining and there are signs of spring outside my windows.  The birds are migrating back into our area and their calling hangs in the air.  There are people walking in the neighborhood and soaking up the sun’s warmth.  There’s a young girl that’s riding her small bike next to her dad who is running; they’re chatting and singing as they go by.  Sometime ahead the tulips will be blooming here in Minnesota.  Somewhere ahead, the struggling and the uncertainty we’re dealing with now will be behind us.  Somewhere ahead I’m hoping we will have learned lessons from this time; perhaps we’ll appreciate the beauty all around us – in nature, in family, and the people we interact with.  And somewhere ahead I’m hoping our world will no longer seem to be upside down, but instead will be more kind.

Staats_holiday cards_calendars 2019_2020

We’re midway through November – a sure sign of the upcoming holidays and the new year.  For the past 16 years I have been offering my original line of holiday cards and desk calendars with my photographic images.

These four images are some of the samples for this year.  More information, along with the complete line of cards and calendars can be found by clicking on the corresponding tabs at the top of my blog page.  If you’d like more information about these distinctive gift items, whether for friends and family or for yourself, please contact me.

Thanks for following along with my blog journeys.  I wish you all joy during the upcoming holiday seasons, and a new year filled with beauty and amazement.

 

Fall is here in all its glory!  The yellows, golds, oranges, and reds, all aglow against a dark stormy sky but lit up by a short-lived stream of sunlight, and reflected in the quiet and still waters of the lake.  This is the beauty we look forward to every year in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Dancing in the sunlight_Staats8559I love the simplicity of our winter landscape.  The white snow clears the distractions and leaves a clean canvas.  As I was out for a walk one day I found these plants above the snow.  With the sun behind them and their shadows splayed out over the white snow, it appeared they were dancing with their shadows.  Similar to a water surface reflection, however the white brings everything down to the basics.  Just like in the cold of winter, we look to the basics of warmth, protection from the cold and wind, and the optimism that spring will be on our doorstep eventually.

Casting into the clouds 2448_StaatsYesterday was a day of diverse activities – fishing and a glorious wedding celebration; and yet the two were very connected.  As the day dawned to overcast skies and thick clouds, we headed out for some fishing.  The cool and the clouds eventually broke up and we fished under an amazing sky brimming with filtered sun and brilliant clouds.  Our fishing was successful, and we laughed that our outing was in honor of the bride and the groom for their wedding later that afternoon.  This joyful couple celebrated their summer wedding outdoors in a grove of trees, surrounded with family and friends all dappled with sunshine.  The bride and groom share a love of nature and especially fishing.  And how appropriate that the groom, his groomsmen, and the bride’s proud father all wore decorative fishing lures as their boutonnieres!

Winter sun & shadow play 7D_0902 _StaatsWe headed out before dawn to Willow River State Park, located just outside of Hudson, Wisconsin.  The temperature was a cold 9 degrees, but the eastern horizon was beginning to glow so we knew we’d have a bit of sunshine to warm us up. At one time the Willow River was used to operate mills for grinding grain, and later logs were driven down the river to Lake St. Croix.  Today, in the cold of a winter’s morning, the area was quiet.  We arrived early enough to observe whitetail deer that were starting to rise after being bedded down for the night.  We saw an eagle soar overhead.  And the snow all around was animated by the sun.   Any small hills were accentuated and visible by their shadows, and where these small flower stems were standing tall through the snow they shed their shadows too across the white landscape.  The sun caused the ice in the snow to sparkle as if it was filled with a thousand diamonds.  It was a wonderful time to explore a new area and see all that offered up to us.