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.

Summer sunrise over the lake_StaatsWe arose in the dark early yesterday morning and headed north to one of our favorite little lakes.  With the boat in tow, loaded with fishing and camera gear, we were set for a summer outing.  We had only just headed out from the landing when the sun cleared the horizon and broke over the tree line.  The clouds reflected the colors of the sun, and the reflection came alive in the surface of the lake – both in the calm water, and in the wake behind the boat.  This glorious sunrise was only a prelude to the rest of the day.  We had packed a breakfast to enjoy on the boat in our “lake with a view.”  The fishing was good; we caught a mess of crappies and sunfish (some of the best lake fish for eating).  The morning remained pleasantly cool, and we marveled at the sandhill cranes that passed overhead and the loons that called from another area of the lake.  Before we knew it, a full six hours had passed.  After the trip home to unload and shower, we then headed to the Minnesota Twins baseball game (another rite of summer).  The crowd enjoyed a well-played game under the summer sky, and celebrated the Twins’ win after the sun had set.  One full day with two of my favorite summer past-times;  I can’t help but feel so fortunate to be able to enjoy all of this.

Greeting the morning_StaatsAfter an evening and night of snow this past week, the following morning promised a dawn of sunshine and a brilliant blue sky.  I headed out the door to begin my day at Como Park.  As I walked into the park I was joined by a cross-country skier who said that the snow was going to be perfect for his outing.  With different agendas we parted and went our own ways.  The sun rose over the white landscape and brought a beautiful contrast to the scene.  The night’s snow had clung to all the trees and they sparkled in the sunlight, especially with the bluest of skies all around.  It was a delightful way to start the cold morning — surrounded by the beauty of winter, the promise of bright sunshine, and some morning exercise of tramping in the snow and photographing.

Dawn at Como 0354_StaatsThe past week was cold and wintry.  It seemed that we had a clipper blow through every day, dropping a couple of inches of snow, then moving on.  That meant daily shoveling (oh yeah!) and lots of overcast days with gray skies.  But one morning I woke up, looked to the east, and thought there might be some clearing skies and a beautiful sunrise.  I quickly dressed, covered up in multiple layers, and ventured out into the cold early dawn to Como Park.  Best part was that I wasn’t disappointed.  The thin layer of clouds to the east allowed the sun to reflect its brilliant colors onto the sky and it became of palette of beautiful hues.  As quickly as the colors of the dawn reached its crescendo, it likewise disappeared to the brightness of a sunny day, all reflected in the snow covering the ground.

This past week has been filled with beautiful crisp and clear mornings.  There’s something about the air in winter, especially in the morning, that is fresh and invigorating.  In order to enjoy all that a winter morning has to offer we headed out before dawn this morning.  As we left the house there was a nearly full moon hanging low in the western sky and although we don’t have snow cover the moonlight was bright and beckoned us on our early outing.  We journeyed west of the Twin Cities to Wright County, an area that’s made up of farmland, rivers and lakes.  As the eastern sky was just beginning to brighten, we arrived at the shoreline of Fountain Lake.  The temperature was about 18 degrees with no wind, but in the quiet just before dawn we could hear a rumbling sound echoing across the lake.  As the ice was contracting and expanding there was a moaning and groaning that shattered the early morning stillness.  Once I was accustomed to this sound and understood what it was, we enjoyed the change of colors in the eastern sky and followed the sun as it lit up the tracks on the ice.  With this cold start to the morning there was a thin layer of frost on many of the grasses and trees and the sun caused the landscape to sparkle and shine as it moved higher in the sky.  After a delicious and filling breakfast in a local cafe we headed out to explore other areas of the county, taking advantage of our unseasonably warm temperatures.