Webster’s dictionary defines hope as wanting something to happen or be true.  So it is with spring this year.  We “hope” for sunshine, warmer temperatures, the bright colors of flowers.  We “hope” that the passing days bring longer hours of sunshine.  And yet Mother Nature has alternative plans.  This week we rode a roller coaster through snow and strong winds, rain, and the promise of warmer air.  Through it all we strive to embrace what it is, just as these runners ran through a deserted Como Park having the trails and snow to themselves in this once-again wintry landscape.

We’re languishing still in winter – short days, colder than normal temperatures, gray skies, brown ground.  This beautiful splash of purple iris caught my eye at the store last week.  Flowers! Color! Spring! – all in one compact bouquet.  It was an instant “shot” of what I needed.  The promise of spring is still ahead; yes, there will be blue skies, sunshine, the scents of spring, and the colors of flowers –  somewhere ahead of the snow expected later today.

winter-trees-on-the-hill-7d15809_staatsThe temperature dropped and winter came back to Minnesota during the past mid-week.  The blue skies and hope of spring were delayed and side tracked by a fast-moving front that dropped snow and brought back winter’s cold winds.  The gray sky that accompanied this snow seemed gloomier than usual, perhaps because of the desire for spring.  But as I wandered the hills, listening to the rattling of the oak leaves in the wind, I saw a brief opening in the clouds – just long enough for a shaft of light to come through and give hope again for an eventual departure of winter.

cabin-at-dusk_15552_staatsWe had spent the weekend exploring the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.  Our last day had been cold, with bright sunshine and strong winds.  The snow was deep inland from the lake and there had been no thawing anywhere as the temps hovered near zero.  We pulled into our cabin after sunset, yet there was a hint of light in the sky.  With a bright star high above, the sound of the waves lapping against the shore, and the comfort of a light to guide us, we knew we were back – to enjoy a fire in the fireplace, and to marvel and appreciate the beauty that surrounded us on our explorations and our journeys.

sunset-on-the-north-shore-15536_staatsWe’ve just returned from a weekend getaway along the North Shore of Lake Superior.  Winter was in all its glory with temps hovering between zero and below.  Our days were spent marveling in the beauty of the area and of winter along the far northeast corner of Minnesota and across the border into Ontario.  At Kakabeka Falls outside of Thunder Bay much of the water was frozen but there were still torrents plummeting over the edge, and the cold winter air caused sea smoke to rise off of Lake Superior. Along the Gunflint Trail people were out participating in and cheering a dog sled race, and there was also a fat tire bike festival taking place.  It was good to see so many people in multiple layers of clothing, big hats, thick gloves, and heavy, big boots – all ready to embrace the adventures that are unique to a cold Minnesota weekend.

snow-dusted-hydrangea_staats-15369Last weekend’s snow disappeared with the rain that followed for a few days.  Once again our ground was visible, and winter seemed far away.   But the snow started falling again last night, and by this morning we had six inches of fluffy white snow on the ground and the trees.  There was no wind, so the snow stayed where it fell, gracing the branches and trees.  This delicate hydrangea bloom was a recipient of the dusting, and it seemed to sparkle with the flakes scattered over its blossoms.  The temperatures have been below freezing the last few days and the lakes are icing over.  This afternoon I saw a large skein of Canada geese heading southward.  They were much higher in the air today as they continued past their usual stops in our area, knowing that they must continue further south to find open water.  And there was a noticeable stillness in the air tonight; a nearly full moon shone down as the snow glistened in its light absorbing the sounds as we quickly move into the winter season.

morning-blanket-of-snow_staats15156We woke up this morning to a fresh blanket of snow — on the ground and on the trees.  It was a wet snow, and with little wind it was clinging to the trees and piling up on the branches.  Everything was fresh and white.  As the morning wore on and the temperature stayed near 30 degrees, people were out enjoying the winter landscape.  I saw a family building a snow fort, numerous snowmen in various shapes and stages of development, people walking and running, dogs playing in the snow, and even some sleds were brought out for the first time this winter.