Like many other people, I’ve been feeling the bombardment of so many things that are happening in our lives.  I’ve been kept awake at night thinking about the divisiveness that exists in my country, my state, and my city.  I’ve lost sleep over the strange happenings of weather – fires in the west that are too huge to imagine the destruction that’s being caused, feet of rain falling from hurricanes making landfall, and the vegetation changes happening here in Minnesota and Wisconsin that’s affecting our wildlife populations of moose, deer, and loons.  Then there are the worries of a continuing pandemic that has  killed hundreds of thousands here in the US – a number that has already surpassed the combined US combat deaths of World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War; the pain sometimes seems too much to fathom.

For me, turning to nature is a balm over these anxieties.  Each morning the earth has completed it’s turn, the darkness of night fades, and the sun returns again.  The leaves are now beginning their color change as the calendar approaches autumn.  I stand out on the dock where the lake temperature has cooled after the heat of summer but is now warmer than the outside air temperature in the early dawn.  The steam rises off the lake, the sun rises over the horizon, and in the distance I can hear the geese calling.  Soon they will be leaving this area and migrating south.  The air temperature will continue to fall as we slide into winter, and the lake will ice over as our days grow shorter and shorter.  And then slowly all these things will reverse.  These are the constants I’m trying to focus on and appreciate.

We just returned from a road trip to Salt Lake City and back, something we haven’t done in a long while.  And one of the things I loved was watching the change of landscape and scenery as the miles went by.  We began in agriculture land with acres of corn and soybeans, and some sunflowers thrown in too.  That landscape changed to rolling hills, then to the badlands of South Dakota.  Into Wyoming we saw pasture lands with cattle and sheep, along with antelope, deer, and coyote.  And then we were in the mountains of Utah, mostly shrouded from the smoke of the nearby forest fires.

During both directions of our trip we got to watch the development of weather fronts.  When the landscape stretches out before you, behind you, and around you it gives you a chance to see the blue (or hazy) skies change to white clouds to billowing thunderstorms to darkness and rain, and then back to clearing skies.  I’ll gladly take a road trip any day over a plane flight that picks you up from one landscape and drops you into another without the benefit of all the miles and scenery in between.

Wind and weather 7D_1628_StaatsI hit the road this past weekend for a quick trip to the Kansas City area.  It was a time for catching up with family and celebrating my niece’s high school graduation.  We were even able to fit in an evening of pond fishing – the winds were calm, the air was warm, the sunset over the farmland was beautiful, and even the fishing was successful.  I headed back home to Minnesota yesterday, leaving Kansas City in the morning after an early thunder-storm had passed.  The sun was out and the temperature was rising, as was the humidity.  I was watching dark and threatening clouds to the north, hoping they would move east before I got to that area.  As I arrived in northern Iowa, the weather intensified to the north and east with large clouds blossoming on the horizon right along the front line.  The radio station kept interrupting with severe weather and tornado warnings to the east and the south.  When the interstate merged to one-lane and the cars started to back up, I took the first exit.  This area of northern Iowa is filled with wind turbine farms, all working to harness the power of the winds that blow across these plains.  Their height and power seemed to compliment the weather that was building in the area.  My timing was perfect as I was west of this storm system, and my time photographing allowed me to miss the heavy downpours that were to the north.  I managed to arrive home in between the storms, but with an appreciation of the power (and randomness) of Mother Nature.