One year closes and another opens, much like the sunset that closes out each day and the sunrise the starts the following day.  Today marks the close of 2017 – a year filled with adventures, travels, and events that I truly couldn’t have envisioned or seen ahead to back on January 1st.  And as I look forward to 2018, I see a horizon with brightness and color, new adventures and things that I can’t foresee right now.  But I’m ready to step out through that sunrise and embrace all that lies ahead.  Happy new year to all of you, and I hope you continue along with me in the new year.

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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.

Lake como dawn 13853_StaatsYesterday’s cool rain cleared overnight, but left pockets of fog in some of the low-lying areas.  The stars came out with the promise of sunshine today.  I was up before dawn this morning and went to Lake Como.  The air was still — no wind to form ripples or waves across the lake, and the fog that was expected hadn’t settled in over the water.  Gradually the dawn sky was growing lighter.  The canoes and kayaks that are available for rent rested in place on the dock, waiting for today’s patrons.  The peace and quiet were a welcome relief from the busyness and crowds that are a short mile away converging on the Minnesota State fairgrounds.

Spring dawn over Lake Johanna 9247_StaatsSpring has been fickle here in Minnesota.  From cold to snow to rain to warm – we’ve had a bit of everything this week.   I’ve already heard the welcome return of the red-winged blackbirds singing, and the lake ice has started to diminish.  I was at Lake Johanna yesterday before sunrise. The winter air was crisp and cold at 19 degrees when it hit my face and hands as I got out of the car, but my ears could hear the geese and the ducks that were splashing in the open water near the shoreline, and in the distance a woodpecker’s repetitive hammering was contributing to the song.  With all this cacophony the sun was illuminating the eastern sky in pinks and orange.  It seems that everything is in anxious anticipation of the season of spring.

Daybreak through the leaves_StaatsWith the promise of autumn sunshine, I headed out before dawn in search of some fall color.  Gradually the changing colors have found their way down to the Twin Cities, and the landscape has become beautiful and filled with the rich colors of autumn.  This morning was cold enough to provide frost in many areas giving an almost-white coating over the grass.  The smell in the air is different as the seasons change and it was delightful to greet the day outside on this crisp and clear morning.

Dawn over Jack the Horse Lake_StaatsLast week I shared a sunset photo from our northern vacation.  As beautiful as the sunsets were, I was equally amazed at the sunrises.  We were staying on Jack the Horse Lake – a quiet lake with only a few cabins and houses and only one resort.  The stillness of the morning, while the sun was yet to rise, was wonderful.  The air was calm and the lake’s surface was like a sheet of glass.  Off in the distance I could hear an owl making its presence known, and eventually the loons would add to the chorus.  Slowly the sky would turn from black to a deep rose color, then to a pale pink and eventually to a brightness of yellow as the sun cleared the horizon and the distant shore, all the while reflected in the mirror-like lake surface.  It was a wondrous and delightful way to greet the day.

Daybreak in the cornfield_StaatsI woke up in the dark the other morning, crawled out of bed, slipped on my shorts, T-shirt, and hiking boots and headed out the door with my camera.  I’ve replayed this scenario so many times over the years.  About 10 years ago I was living in Washington and would drive to Mount Rainier to see the sun rise over the mountains.  Now I’m in Minnesota and I drive a few blocks and I’m walking through fields of tasseled corn, the temperature already at 80 degrees.  In both instances I’m aware of so much more than the view in front of me.  There are smells (whether of towering firs and cedars or agriculture fields) and there are sounds (of the creeks and streams that flow from the melting snow or the wind blowing through the corn and giving the geese thermals to float on).  No matter where, there is so much that comes to life as the sun crests the horizon and the day breaks.  The smoke from the wildfires in the west has drifted our way, giving our sunrises and sunsets a deeper shade of red and orange.  This early-morning-time is ripe with the promise of the day (and the adventures) ahead.