Although the day had been warm and windy, as evening was slipping away the wind was settling down.  I launched my kayak and paddled to the opposite shore where I could watch the sun set on another summer’s day.  By nestling the kayak back into the lily pads I could sit calmly and in place to enjoy the sun’s slow slide below the trees and the western horizon.

In the distance I could hear the sound of children splashing and swimming in the lake, and nearer was the call between the two resident loons.  The clouds were slowly drifting in from the northwest but the lake’s surface was smooth and mirror-like.  The sunlight swept across the blue lake and reflected off the lily pads.  It was the perfect end to this summer’s day.

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.

We traveled south last week for a visit with family in Kansas.  Our route took us off the interstate and along two lane highways and county roads.  It was relaxing and much more interesting than the speed-view when traveling at 70+ miles per hour.  We stopped at small city parks and explored fields of corn and soybeans.  The temperatures were still summer-like but the days are certainly shorter.  The sunsets were beautiful like this one –  fields of flowers and a ball of fire going down over the horizon but still giving its glow and colors to the clouds above.  The field was full of dragonflies and grasshoppers, all in a feeding frenzy before fall and winter’s arrival.  It was a wonderful trip — not just for the scenery but more importantly for the time spent with family.

One of the mantras taught to photographers is patience.  Sometimes what you are expecting may not appear possible, but a little patience can lead to some grand results.  Such was the case earlier this week.  The afternoon was cloudy, warm, and humid, and the sky was nondescript.  Even the lake looked dull.  We headed out for a ride around the lake and 30 minutes before sunset the clouds started to clear.  As the sun started to go behind the trees on the western shore, they cast a shadow on the eastern shoreline.  The water became calm, and the clearing sky filled with pink and white clouds was reflected in the lake surface below, along with the gold of the trees on the shoreline.  It lasted for a few minutes and then was gone; my patience rewarded.

August began as it should, sunny and hot – the epitome of a Minnesota summer’s day.  The perfect ending to an August day is a lake and ice cream.  We were lucky enough to have both the lake and a DQ close by in the Cities.  As kids played in the water by the swimming beach, we noticed more and more people coming to the lake as the sunset approached.  A storm was developing to the northwest and the clouds began to move in, but luckily they held off long enough for the sun to give up a last hurrah, light up the sky and clouds, and reflect its brilliant colors in the surface of the lake.  A group cruised by on their pontoon boat as we sat on a bench and enjoyed our ice cream, the cool breeze coming off the lake, and the beauty of the day’s end.

Flaming sunset 10613_StaatsWe just returned from some R&R in the north woods of Minnesota –  a small cabin at Jack the Horse Resort, north of Marcell.  When we first arrived, the summer heat and humidity were plainly evident – shorts and T-shirts were required, along with a dip in the lake.  The second day there was a thunderstorm that moved through in the afternoon, clearing about an hour before sunset.  As the clouds moved off to the east, the late sun splashed them with vivid colors, and the brilliance of the sky was reflected in the still waters of Jack the Horse Lake.  The following day marked a cooling trend, and three days later we were wearing our long underwear and jackets as the north wind blew and the temps were down in the 30’s at night.  The trip included successful fishing, glorious blue skies, an appreciation of the forests and woods, and even a night where we watched the Northern Lights dance above the lake.