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.

Dusting on Como Golf Course 12634_StaatsSpring is not known for its consistency.  After tulips had broken through the ground, ice has been off the lakes, and everyone’s thoughts were turning to warmer temperatures, we got a slap of snow.  The temperatures dropped, the winds picked up, and winter came sweeping back into Minnesota.  I headed out before dawn to the Como Golf Course.  The white dusting left some wonderful patterns and allowed the shapes of the trees to stand out in the landscape.  It was still dark enough that the street lights around the lake were lit and glowed a beautiful golden yellow to contrast with the white landscape.  And on the green, the red flag fluttered in defiance of the winter weather.  Undettered, spring will try again this week to get its foothold on our landscape.

Landscape from above PS2417StaatsI made a quick trip to the Kansas City area this weekend.  A one-way flight on Friday late afternoon took me 450 miles south of Minnesota.  The sunset was stunning and the landscape below is always interesting.  A pattern of fields and rivers, valleys and hills, and eventually roads with car lights that dot the lines from horizon to horizon.  But what was more noticeable to me this time, was the difference in the seasons.  Leaving Minnesota, our grass is brown and our lakes still have some ice on them.  Snow is still visible in protected areas.  But once I was in Kansas City I realized what a difference 450 miles makes in the seasons.  The magnolia trees were in bloom, the bright yellow of the forsythia was glowing, and daffodils were showing their golden faces.  Even the grass was no longer brown, and fields of winter wheat were a beautiful green.  The drive home made the seasonal difference even more noticeable.  Throughout northern Iowa and southern Minnesota grasses in the fields were visibly packed down from the weight of the recently melted snow, and there was a demarcation line that the red-winged blackbirds had not crossed yet in their journey to the north.  Green grass will take-over in Minnesota, and flowers will bloom, and the blackbirds will be in our neighborhood, but nature hasn’t stretched her warm hands this far north yet.

Yellow begonias 12626_StaatsAlthough it’s not here yet, spring is definitely around the corner.  After a wet snow on Friday, today is sunny and in the 50’s with much melting taking place.  Outside the grass is brown and the trees are bare.  But there’s a hope and promise of spring to come.  And that’s what these lovely yellow begonias seem to be saying –  spring’s colors and warmth will be here soon.  Green will appear in our landscape, the sun will generate warmth, and we will gladly move from winter to spring.

Weathered leaf_12586 StaateEvery Minnesotan found an excuse to be outside yesterday as the temperatures soared into the 50’s.  The sun was warm, the day was bright, and spring seemed just around the corner.  We headed out for a hike in the woods.  As we started out before 8:30 in the morning, the ground was still hard and frozen.  Within the woods, there was more snow on the ground, but as the morning continued and the temperature warmed, everything became softer.  The birds and squirrels were active, making their presence known, as if they too were enjoying this spring-like morning.  I found a large roll of barbed wire that had been left in the woods.  Amidst the tangle of wire, there were leaves that had fallen and been held in place by the snow.  Now they were weathered and delicate, leaving an amazing texture to their thinness.  The contrast seemed so opposite between the cold, hard barbed wire and the delicate, paper-thin leaves.

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.

Life guard off duty 12153_StaatsI got up and out of the house before dawn yesterday, in search of a photograph to show a Minnesota winter morning.  The air was cold, but not bitterly so, and the wind was still.  The eastern sky promised a bit of color so I headed to a city lake.  Our winter has been cold enough, long enough to freeze the lakes and they are now a winter wonderland of activities.  Hockey nets are in place on many lakes, snow has been dusted off to allow skating areas, ice houses are seen with people fishing, and even cars are driving on the frozen lakes.  This scene caught my attention –  the summer swimming beach is anything but hospitable in winter, yet we are reminded that the lifeguard is off duty, at least until the winds blow summer temperatures our way.