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.

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snow-dusted-hydrangea_staats-15369Last weekend’s snow disappeared with the rain that followed for a few days.  Once again our ground was visible, and winter seemed far away.   But the snow started falling again last night, and by this morning we had six inches of fluffy white snow on the ground and the trees.  There was no wind, so the snow stayed where it fell, gracing the branches and trees.  This delicate hydrangea bloom was a recipient of the dusting, and it seemed to sparkle with the flakes scattered over its blossoms.  The temperatures have been below freezing the last few days and the lakes are icing over.  This afternoon I saw a large skein of Canada geese heading southward.  They were much higher in the air today as they continued past their usual stops in our area, knowing that they must continue further south to find open water.  And there was a noticeable stillness in the air tonight; a nearly full moon shone down as the snow glistened in its light absorbing the sounds as we quickly move into the winter season.

morning-blanket-of-snow_staats15156We woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow — on the ground and on the trees.  It was a wet snow, and with little wind it was clinging to the trees and piling up on the branches.  Everything was fresh and white.  As the morning wore on and the temperature stayed near 30 degrees, people were out enjoying the winter landscape.  I saw a family building a snow fort, numerous snowmen in various shapes and stages of development, people walking and running, dogs playing in the snow, and even some sleds were brought out for the first time this winter.

winter-stillness-and-reflection_15035-staatsThe snow began after dark and continued through the night.  It was a wet and heavy snow that blanketed the ground and outlined the branches and trees.  In the morning the landscape had been transformed to winter.  It was stillness and quiet this morning before Thanksgiving.  I was at the golf course at Como Park where the oak trees on the far side of the pond still had their burgundy leaves. The entire landscape before me was quietly reflected in the open water.  No ripple, no movement.  Only the peacefulness of a winter’s morning.

winters-arrival-ordway-japanes-garden_14930-staatsWe knew it was coming; it was even later than usual this year.  But winter’s arrival is always a shock, especially when the temperature drops 30 degrees in one day, the wind blows and gusts, and the rain turns to snow.  For less than 48 hours we have been below freezing.  The snow fell Friday afternoon and evening, and here in the Twin Cities we have less than an inch on the ground.  But the white was evident on the plants and grass, and the cold was enough to put a layer of ice on the water in the Ordway Japanese Garden at Como Park.  One tree bravely held on to its bright red leaves – the only real spark of color in the now-winter landscape.  In this beautiful quiet this morning, the only sound was the waterfall that was continuing to gurgle and the geese whose flight south to open water took on a new sense of urgency.

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.

McNelly Conservatory after fresh snowfall_Staats12062Friday morning we awoke to a fresh snowfall.  The dingy remnants of the earlier snow were whitened, the snow that fell overnight lay coating the trees, the wind was still, and the temperature was hovering around freezing –  all the elements of a perfect snowfall.  As I headed out the door to work, I made a “scheduled” detour to Como Park and the McNeely Conservatory.  The lights inside the conservatory gave off a warm glow to the glass in contrast to the blue and white of the snow.  And the snow-covered trees were sentinels of the beauty of this winter morning.  In the stillness and beauty of the early morning it was just me photographing, and the snowplow driver clearing the roads and paths in the park.