Winter steps

Our steps haven’t been completely clear for quite a while this winter. Even when they weren’t covered with fresh snow there were still the inevitable patches of ice or compacted snow. And the temperatures just haven’t risen high enough or the sun hasn’t beat down on the steps enough to clear them.

After a recent overnight snowfall it seemed that the steps were just peeking out of the snow, making a wonderful study in black and white. The mounds of shoveled snow on either side of the steps (remnants of previous snows) breaks up the white with a welcome curve, and the lone leaf was there for only a short time before a gust of wind swept it up and into the air, across the yard.

Stepping stones

We’ve recently returned from a three-week road trip to visit family and explore new places. We experienced sun and heat, smoke-filled days and nights, a full moon, and a sky filled with countless stars. We traveled through miles of corn, soybeans, sunflowers, grasslands, badlands, prairies, mountains, and black hills. The diversity and beauty of our country is truly amazing.

On our return to Minnesota we stayed one night at Lake Shetek State Park in the southwestern part of the state. As we explored the park and lake we walked across a causeway connecting the lake shoreline to Loon Island. The causeway was constructed as part of a WPA program. Earlier in the day I had seen a family swimming and relaxing at the end of the causeway. But as I walked again in the calm of late evening my attention was drawn to these rocks that extended from the sandy beach into the lake. Their pattern seemed to be welcoming me back to the land of 10,000 lakes and asking me to come along, follow each one, into the coolness of the lake.

A trip to the Weisman Art Museum

It was another bitterly cold day in the Twin Cities.  Suffering from cabin fever from our long drawn-out winter, we were looking for a diversion and headed to the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota.  The visit was wonderful –  a chance to forget about the weather and get absorbed in the art inside.  The building itself was designed by Frank Gehry and features his Deconstructivist style architecture.  The outside panels are a treat for photographers as they reflect the surroundings.   With the cold sunshine there were amazing abstracts, lines, designs, and colors.

Raindrops amidst the fading colors

The bright colors of fall have come to an end.  The oaks have turned to their deeper rust color and the ground is now littered with faded colors.  As I was out raking leaves, a light rain started.  On the still lake it provided its punctuation in the water surface.  The reflection was beautiful and a reminder to me that even though the bright colors of fall are gone and many of the trees are without their vibrant leaves, there is still an amazing beauty in the world around us.

Water abstract

There’s something very simple and abstract to an image when you remove the surrounding landscape.  Lines become more pronounced.  Colors, or the lack of colors in some areas, takes on a different significance.  This scene caught my eye when we were out boating.  The golds and greens at the top of the image are the reflection of the far side of the lake as the late evening sun is illuminating it.  Some of the water ripples pick up those colors too.  The lines of the wake are interrupted by the lily pads which are now starting to appear throughout the lake; they contribute their own tension to the image.  And the entire photo shifts from the warmth of the sun-lit trees to the cool blues and whites of the reflected sky.  It’s truly an abstract image yet it pulls together all the things we cherish about summer in the North.