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.

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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.

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.

Spring daffs and tulips 12834_StaatsFinally!  The colors of spring have returned to our Minnesota landscape.  The white of winter gave way to the brown, prior to the green of spring.  And now the flowers have burst into bloom, adding their yellows and pinks.  Not only has the landscape brightened, but peoples’ moods have been buoyed by the bright colors too.  A bed of daffodils was showcased in front of a showy field of tulips — the best of spring all in one spot, and all blooming at the same time.  When I was a child, we would make “baskets” out of colored construction paper, put flowers in them, and hang them on the doors of our neighbors to celebrate May Day.  I’m intending this post as the present-day equivalent to my readers.  Happy May and spring!

Spring tulips aglow 12770_StaatsIn my longing for the colors of spring, I wandered into the McNeely Conservatory at Como Park.  My spirits rose as I took in the colors and smells of our long-awaited season of spring – an array of lilies, tulips, ranunculus, and daffodils.  Flowers the colors of the sun — the light of spring that we crave so much after the cold and white of winter.  From underneath these tulips the light from above made them glow and shimmer – an ephemeral hint at their fragility and short-lived life in the transition between winter and summer.

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.

McNeely Conservatory 100th anniversaryYesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  I’ve been fortunate to enjoy it in my neighborhood for the past 10 years, and even in that time there have been many changes.  Throughout the seasons the conservatory has welcomed people to its warmth and its plethora of beautiful flowers.  In a state where we have a definitive four seasons, it’s been delightful to have an oasis of green and color during the wintertime when our landscape is reduced to black and white.  This weekend the Conservatory was filled with the music of 1915 including Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Muddy Waters.  The changes I’ve seen in 10 years can’t begin to compare to the changes in a century.  I trust that the conservatory will be around in another 100 years, and that people will continue to marvel at the Victorian glass houses that have attracted visitors for all these years.