The snow of winter has a way of draping its white over everything.  The trees become lined emphasizing their structure and branches.  The ground becomes white showing the curves and hips of hills.  At the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus is a wonderful sculpture setting of cows.  These bigger than life animals are resting peacefully in their urban setting.  The snow has draped over them also, quietly emphasizing their repose and seeming indifference to the weather.  They’re a great reminder to me to accept the weather, accept the snow, and appreciate its beauty.

Free air and winter bikes 8488_StaatsAfter a “brown” Christmas with many Minnesotans grumbling about the lack of white, we awoke to a 6-inch snow on Saturday morning.  The landscape was once again white and clean.  I was wandering around the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota and found these bicycles and “Free Air.”  The snow had piled up precariously on top of the handlebars, tires, and bicycle seats – almost like frosting on a cake.  The colors of the bikes and the chains added a bright contrast to the white and brown scenery all around.  With the forecast of colder temperatures I doubt this snow will be melting anytime soon.

Anemone dance 7D_1826 _StaatsBecause of our cooler-than-normal weather, the usual flowering season for all of our plants has been delayed.  The other night I went over to the horticulture garden at the University of Minnesota, not knowing what if anything I would find blooming.  It was a cool, overcast evening with a slight breeze, and I was delighted to find these beautiful white anemones dancing as the wind blew through them.  Their slender stems seemed barely able to support the blossoms as they swayed back and forth, but their brightness was a wonderful contrast to the gray evening.  I have read of places where there are fields of anemones, and I can only imagine how delightful it would be to see an entire acre of dancing anemones!

Winter colors after the snow 7D_0667_StaatsOur winter landscape has been blanketed in white since early December, and each week a bit more snow has been added to the ground.  I headed out for a snowshoe walk early yesterday morning at the golf course on the University of Minnesota Saint Paul campus.  The city was quiet for a Saturday morning — no commuter traffic, no snowplows clearing the roads yet, and most people were still in their beds.  As I got into the center of the golf course I realized that it really wasn’t as quiet as I had thought.  There were birds flitting from tree to tree chirping their greetings, and tracks in the snow where the squirrels had scampered from one area to another.  And then I noticed that the landscape wasn’t really quite so white.  Although the gray sky was reflecting in the snow cover, the oak trees still had their reddish-brown leaves clinging to the branches, some of the blonde grasses were blowing lightly in the breeze, and the pine trees were green with a coating of snow.  The landscape was a study of muted contrasts and  colors.

Winter dining 70480_StaatsWinter has arrived, in all her glory.  It started snowing during the night and has continued all day.  From a dusting, to a few inches, to piles, it’s still continuing to fall and grace our landscape.  I ventured out this morning when we had about three to four inches.  The landscape was beautiful with the snow outlining the trees and structures.  Everything was graced in a beautiful white coat.  I went to the horticulture garden on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota.  In the spring and summer it’s filled with the bright and bold colors of flowers, blooming shrubs, and vegetables.  There are small tables and chairs that invite people to stop and linger and to enjoy the surroundings.  Today I had the garden to myself, however the tables and chairs still seemed to be calling for people to pause and marvel at the beauty in the garden. Although not the summer colors, I was pleased to find the red berries and twigs, the golds of the grasses, the greens in the shrubs, and the dark textures of the trees – all a welcome contrast to the white coating of snow.

The season of spring is the season of color.  We come out of the white, silent world of winter and our senses are shocked by the abundance of colors.  Our grasses are green, the new leaves are starting to emerge, and the flowering trees are now taking their turns.  My eyes have been caught by the brilliant yellows and golds of the forsythia bushes that are now blooming.  And when I drove past an entire hillside of them glowing in the sun I knew I had to return.  But yesterday morning was cloudy and cold, with a gusty sharp wind that was keeping our temperatures in the 40’s.  As I drove over to the yellow hillside I wasn’t too terribly excited because of the conditions.  But what I found as I wandered around on the hill was a beautiful old redbud tree that has also responded to our early spring with buds of purple that were starting to emerge.  Those of you from Minnesota will know that the University’s colors are maroon and gold, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this hillside of forsythia and this wonderful purple/maroon redbud was on the Saint Paul campus.  Do you suppose this is a coincidence?

Although I’m not a big fan of new year’s resolutions, I’ve made two resolutions for 2011.  The first is to continue to post to this blog every week, so you can all stay tuned for new photographs throughout the year.  My second resolution is to have more fun in 2011.  It’s way too easy to get bogged down with the details and worries of daily life, and it’s not good and/or healthy to stress over them.  So my answer to that is to enjoy and appreciate each day, and with that to have more fun.  And what better way to begin the year than with the mascot of the University of Minnesota, Goldy Gopher!  We attended the Gopher hockey match on New Year’s Eve, and had a grand time.  A good game, with lots of great puck handling and passes, but unfortunately our Gophers lost in overtime.  But I made sure to have my picture taken with Goldy.  Who can resist a golden gopher with a great big smile, and a Happy New Year tiara to boot!