We have some wonderful friends near Wabasha, Minnesota that have a vineyard on the bluff above the Mississippi River. Each year we journey south to help with the harvest, and today the grapes were calling us. We left the Twin Cities with a clear sunrise, but as we headed towards the river the fog became thicker and thicker. Even when we got to Lake Pepin, where the Mississippi is so wide it’s called a lake, there was no lake to see. I love to photograph in the fog because it can create a clean palette to work with designs and lines, and we stopped along our trip so I could do just that. But as we headed up the bluff, away from the river to the vineyard, we broke out into the sunshine once again. Some of the trees in the area are just starting to show some yellows and golds for fall colors. From the top of the bluff I was amazed to see the layers in this photograph: the grape vines are loaded with grapes, the trees are showing some color, the Mississippi River is socked in with fog, and the Wisconsin bluffs are visible on the other side with blue sky above. It was a beautiful day to be outside picking grapes, visiting our friends and the others that were gathered to help with the harvest.
Our fall colors have been changing rapidly. Knowing that they won’t be lasting much longer, I took a day off work and left the house before 6:00am. I drove southeast in the darkness and caught up with the Mississippi River. On a bluff above the river in Frontenac State Park I enjoyed the quiet and beauty of daybreak over the Mississippi. The morning was cool and coated the grasses and fall flowers with a light dew. And yet as the sun rose there was the promise of a warm Indian summer day ahead. As I focused my camera down the river to Lake Pepin I heard a rustling in the grasses to my right. Just as I glanced in that direction, a large doe leapt through the little bluestem and bounded down the hill — the only sound breaking the quiet. I spent the remainder of this warm day wandering the hillsides and bluffs on either side of the Mississippi River, in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The following days were windy and blustery, and I’m certain many of the remaining leaves found their way down to the ground. In the short span of this past week, the landscape has changed dramatically, getting closer to the inevitable first hard frost and winter.