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.

laka-mary-sunset-14756_staatsThis was a weekend of rest and relaxation at the lake.  I’m fortunate to have a group of friends that find camaraderie and restoration together at one woman’s cabin near Alexandria.  The beer was cold, the food was great, and the conversation flowed easily.  It was a time for all of us to unwind, share the events of our lives, and reconnect since our last time together.  Even better was the fact that our weather was warm and clear – unusual for this time in November.  Friday evening I found myself drawn to the lake.  There was no wind, the sun was slowly sinking into the western sky, and a beautiful wisp of clouds was reflected in the glass-like surface of the lake.  The water was so clear I could see the rocks below the surface at my feet.  All was silent, and all was right with this natural world.  As I marveled at the beauty and gave thanks for my friends and my life right now, a loon gave out its characteristic cry in the middle of the lake.  It seemed to be a reminder that nature can always be a place for us to recharge, refresh, and find a restorative place amidst all the outside influences that work to distract us and try to wear us down.

Full moonrise 10917_StaatsLast weekend’s super moon and lunar eclipse was an event followed by many people.  I found myself in the agricultural fields of the Saint Paul campus of the University of Minnesota at the time of the moonrise.  The weather had been glorious with warm temperatures and a southerly breeze, and as the sun set the sky remained clear.  Slowly the full moon rose on the eastern horizon, clearing the corn fields that surrounded me, accompanied by the sound of the wind rattling through the dry corn stalks.  Although I was in the middle of the city, it seemed like I was distant and not in an urban area.  But what surprised me the most, were the number of people that had come out to do the same thing I was doing.  The gravel road between the fields was lined with cars.  People were sitting in chairs or sitting in their cars, and people were walking — all there to marvel in the size of this full moon and then to observe the lunar eclipse.  Another 18 years is a long time until the next event like this, hence the urgency for many of us to enjoy it this time.

Reflections Jack the Horse Lake_Staats 10636I wanted to share another image from our vacation in northern Minnesota.  I am always amazed at the light when we are in this area.  Perhaps it’s because the sky appears so large and the lakes help to reflect all the light that’s around.  This particular evening the sun was getting lower in the western sky, slanting to the east.  It cast a golden glow on the trees along Jack the Horse Lake.  The clouds to the south were a luminous white and pink, dusted with the glow of the setting sun.  And the calmness of the evening allowed the colors to be reflected in the smooth lake surface – a scene that still takes my breath away.  Calmness, light, stillness, luminosity, and beauty.

Sunset over Spirit Lake_10335 StaatsAs the temperature soared into the 90’s in the Twin Cities last Friday, we did what many Minnesotans do and headed “up north” for the weekend.  A small cabin at Whitewood Resort overlooking Spirit Lake was the perfect relief.  We spent the time keeping cool either by swimming in the lake or fishing.  The first night we were treated to a beautiful glowing sunset with the reflection slicing through the wild rice that is in this lake.  As I lay in bed that night I was lulled to sleep by the loons calling back and forth.  We caught our share of sunfish and crappies the next day, watched an eagle swoop down and get his fish from the lake, and our second night was highlighted by a view of the Northern Lights as we sat on the dock with our feet in the lake.  A few hours later, a storm rolled through with lightning and thunder and dropped the temperatures considerably.  This morning we wandered amongst the many lakes in Aitkin County then shared lunch with good friends we haven’t seen in a long time.  As we headed back to the cities we found ourselves refreshed and relaxed and thankful for a quick escape up north.

Storm clouds at sunset_10297 StaatsYesterday started with a gray cloud cover and comfortable temps.  As the day wore on, the sun broke through and the heat started to build.  Planning to take advantage of near-perfect fishing weather, we drove north about 50 miles to East Rush Lake.  We enjoyed a dinner in the boat between pulling in sunfish and crappies, and I was looking forward to the sunset.  Slowly, to the west, we could see storm clouds moving in, leaving a clear demarcation in the sky — blue sky white clouds and sunshine being taken over by dark gray and purple with white clouds developing within.  Our timing was perfect; we made our way across the lake to the boat landing, trailered the boat, and then watched the far shore as the lightning and rain moved across the lake.

Sunset conversation 7D-10285_StaatsOur weather has been warm and humid, leaving two options for coping.  First is to find some air conditioning and sequester yourself inside.  Second is to hunt out a nearby lake and take in the cool breeze that blows across the surface.  I sought out the second option one night this past week, as did others.  The wind blew across this urban lake, rustling through the trees and dropping the temps considerably.  A beautiful sunset was all that was needed to tell me that I’d chosen the better option.  This couple seemed to be thinking the same thing, and relishing the end of another midsummer’s day.