One of the constants of the weather in Minnesota is the wind.  We seem to attract the winds from all four directions, whether it’s a northern clipper coming down from Canada, a warm tropical surge coming from the Gulf Coast to the south, a wintry mix blowing across the northern Rockies from the west, or a wrap-around wind that skirts Lake Superior to the east.  So when the air is calm and still it is most noticeable, and so it was one recent evening.  A good friend (and wonderful photography scout) of mine was driving around Lake Como and noticed that the lake surface was as smooth as glass.  I packed up my camera and headed over to the lake.  The sky was filled with dark gray and blue clouds although there was a thin line of clearing to the south.  I headed to a small bay where I knew I could include the pink clearing in my photo.  As I walked up to the shoreline I found a flock of wood ducks who were not overly pleased that I was coming to their area.  Their swimming out into the lake created a bit of water movement in the bay — just enough to blur the beautiful reflection that I was seeing in the water.  It wasn’t until I got home and was looking at the photos on my computer that I saw the effect of their movement, and although subtle, I liked the end-result.

We are quickly slipping from fall into winter.  Once Mother Nature has made up her mind it seems that the changes become so much more noticeable.  Although our days have been unseasonably warm, this past week we had two mornings of frost.  That and the shorter daylight seem to have triggered some major changes.  These two images were taken one week apart — the top image was last weekend and the bottom image was this morning.  The colors are gone, the leaves have dropped (except for a few hold-outs), and even the sky has changed to its winter shade of gray.    There is some mention of snow flurries possible later this week so we are hurriedly preparing the yard and garden beds for winter’s cold.   As with the change back to standard time we all seem to change our outlooks.  We’re looking forward to soups and heavier “comfort” meals, along with the upcoming holidays.
And with the calendar change to November I’m happy to announce my 2011 holiday card collection and my 2012 desk calendar collection.  Both of these can be found on separate pages at the top of my blog.  This is my eighth year of offering cards and calendars and you’re sure to find something to delight anyone’s tastes.  Some of the photographs you’ll recognize as images that have been posted to my blog, but many of them are new photos.  Browse and enjoy!  And email me with any questions.
Enjoy this time of changing seasons!

While the east coast is digging out from its blanket of white, we’ve been enjoying a prolonged and beautiful fall.  Many of the trees have lost their leaves and yet some are just now coming into their brilliant last burst of color.  One of the best things about this year’s prolonged autumn is that you don’t have to drive far to see the colors — they’re in the neighborhood parks and up and down the streets.  And with some sunny blue-sky days like we had last week it was the perfect time to get out for some photographing.  This image is from a small park three blocks from our home.  The sun was low in the sky about a half hour before sunset when I stopped by the park.  Although this single leaf is tattered it was putting on its own brilliant display of fall colors.  I’m not sure if the leaf was still there the next day as we had some gusty winds that brought much of the color down to the ground, but for this one evening this leaf was there to be appreciated and photographed.

I was doing some garden work this weekend – pruning flowers, pulling weeds, and trying to tidy up a summer’s worth of growth.  We’ve had an unusually wet summer which has allowed some plants to grow like weeds (and even the weeds have been growing prolifically too!).  As I was going about my work I was surprised to find this grasshopper sitting and watching all I was doing.  He didn’t attempt to jump away, but rather he seemed content to be out in the open and observing.  He had a great place to sit, perched on the head of the black-eyed susan.  It’s always fun to find creatures in the garden, whether it’s grasshoppers, bees, butterflies, or even the occasional dried shell left behind by a cicada.  Within a few weeks many of the creatures will have left the area in preparation for fall and then winter.  And hopefully my pruning will be done and the garden beds will be put to rest and covered before the first snowfall.

I’m pleased to announce that I have a collection of photographs that will be exhibited at the Hudson Hospital in Hudson, Wisconsin beginning this Wednesday, August 3rd.  The hospital has a wonderful healing arts program which includes over 200 works of art throughout the entire campus, including patient rooms.  My images for this exhibit are titled “Close to Home.”  I have been interested in the belief held by so many people that we must travel to faraway places to find the beautiful things in our world.  Yet in the small area of my city lot with its small brick house and gardens is a world of great beauty and wonder, like this monarch butterfly that balanced on a purple coneflower one hot day in July. The exhibit runs from August 3rd through December 11th.  There is an artist reception this Friday, August 5th from 6:00 to 8:00pm.  I invite any one near the Twin Cities area to come to the reception or to stop by the Hudson Hospital to see their fine exhibit.  For more information about the hospital or for directions, please go to www.hudsonhospital.org.

With a delightful flourish spring is here!  The past week has been a roller coaster of temperatures, from 39 degrees to 88 degrees, from sun to rain, from thunderstorms and peach-colored skies to clouds of gray.  You name it, we’ve had it, including reports of snow flurries mixed in with the rain of yesterday.  All this moisture with intervals of heat and sun have caused the trees to leaf out, tulips to bloom, lilacs to blossom.  Such a great amount of activity packed into a short time-frame.  When I lived in the Pacific Northwest spring lasted from February through June — probably the longest season of the year.  Now that I’m in Minnesota our spring seems to be anywhere from two weeks to a month long.  We linger in winter, jump through spring and straight into summer.  Our spring days are presently filled with the sounds of birds chirping and lawn mowers being started.  Neighbors are getting reacquainted after the cold winter.   People are walking, running, biking – anything to be outside.  Our backyard has become filled with color — green leaves and grass, yellow and red tulips, and the deep burgundy of the new peony shoots.  It’s a joy to be outside to take it all in.

The one color that sums up everything about spring is yellow.  It’s the color of sunshine, the color of warmth, and the color of daffodils.  These bright flowers shine with color and promise and brighten any day.  Although we don’t have daffodils blooming outside just yet,  I was fortunate to find these lovely blooms at the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.  They speak to me of warmer temperatures, the end of winter, the hope of spring, and the promise of summer.