Spring has been more than elusive this year for us in Minnesota. Our winter has lingered way longer than anyone wants, even threatening the long-awaited fishing opener next week. When we should have 60 degree temps, open water, and blooming flowers we have instead endured two snowfalls in the past week alone, temps in the 30s and 40s, lakes still covered in ice, and nothing blooming. But there is one place that is a haven of spring at this time of year – the McNeely Conservatory in Como Park. This has been my refuge and antidote for our cold and gray continuing winter. I found tulips and hyacinths, calla lilies and these lovely freesias. The perfect dose of colors, smells, and the promise of spring. Yet to come.
We headed out last weekend for one final camping trip before the snow flies. Our original plans had us going to the southwest corner of Minnesota, but a prediction of one to two inches of rain changed our minds. Looking for “drier pastures” we drove to North Dakota. Nestled in the southeast corner of the state is the Sheyenne River Valley that seemed to have the potential for unlimited exploring. One of the national scenic byways runs through this river valley, and we found ourselves meandering down gravel roads taking in the scenery. The peak fall color was already past although there were spots of gold mixed in with the rich maroon and brown of the oaks. The valley is wonderfully scenic and has beautiful rolling hills, as well as much history. We camped at Fort Ransom State Park near the spot where the original Fort Ransom was established in 1867. After the fort was dismantled in the mid 1870’s the valley was opened for homesteading. Many of the early settlers in this area were Norwegian farmers, and their heritage and influence is evident. Within the state park is the original homestead of Andrew Sunne who settled on the land in 1884. His home and original barn are still on the site. This photograph is of a cabin that is on the Sunne site, looking out over part of the river valley. What wonderful sights the Sunnes must have seen out their cabin windows, seeing the river and hillsides and following the progression of all four seasons.