Batting practice

On a beautiful late-spring afternoon I was lucky enough to have tickets to the Minnesota Twins baseball game against the LA Angels.  Even better was that I got to go early to see the Twins’ batting practice.  The sun was warm, the sky was blue, and our hopes were up for a win that night.  After the Twins’ batting practice was over the Angels came out for their warm up.  As the sun was moving lower into the sky it created dark shadows from the stadium deck that stretched across the outfield.  For awhile it seemed most of the action was anywhere but in left field, as these three players seemed quite content to rest on their bats, soak up the sun, and cast long shadows over the green turf.  In the end, the Angels beat the Twins.  But I’ve learned that baseball isn’t just about wins and losses –  it had been a beautiful afternoon and night for a baseball game.

Cue a new year

With our brown grass and unseasonably warmer temperatures it really hasn’t “felt” or “looked” like Christmas, let alone winter.  For New Year’s Eve we planned a quiet day of running errands and making turkey soup, and then headed out for an evening movie at the historic Riverview Theater in Minneapolis.  And as things seem to have a way of cueing up at just the right time, we came out of the theater around 9:30 to the sight of a beautiful snowfall.  We walked across the street to a lovely cafe and wine bar, and enjoyed the mixture of lively conversation and a band while watching the snow collect on the sidewalks and trees.  This was a wet and heavy snow, and the flakes were the biggest I’ve ever seen.  Some could easily have been over an inch and half square!  It was as if 2012 had taken its cue to enhance our mood with a much-needed and appropriate snowfall.
As I look back on 2011 I am thankful for so many things – friends, family, and good health (including one repaired thumb).  I’ve had the opportunity to make over 5,100 photographic images this past year.  Granted, not all of them are the “perfect” image, but many have served as “sketches” for a final image.  I’ve also taken two short videos – one was intentional and one was not.  And, for the 3rd year I have posted a photo and entry to this blog every week.  I started to blog in 2009 as a challenge to maintain my love of photography.  Some weekends I approach my computer and blog with joy, wanting to share a great photo and a wonderful experience I’ve had.  Other weekends I start to panic on Sunday realizing that I haven’t had my camera out and I feel a deadline fast approaching.  Each of those scenarios have taught me things about myself and my photography.  Thanks to all of you that follow my blog, and to those who comment.  Your interest in my scenes and stories, coupled with your comments and your stories keep me coming back week after week.
May this coming year be filled with peace, hope, beauty, vision, more photographs, experiences, and a life filled to the brim!

Semifrozen Minnehaha Falls

Our weather in the Twin Cities has been cold this past week — the coldest temperatures since last March.  With that many of our lakes have frozen over, and I even made a first sighting this winter of a person ice fishing on a nearby lake.  We were in Minneapolis today having a delightful brunch with family, and afterwords stopped by Minnehaha Park.  It was the perfect opportunity to see the falls in a semifrozen state, surrounded by large icicles.  Minnehaha Park includes the area where Minnehaha Creek empties into the Mississippi River.  The park dates back to the late 1800’s and the name Minnehaha is from the Dakota language meaning waterfall.  Minnehaha Falls is a 53 foot waterfall drop surrounded by limestone bluffs.  After heavy rains in early summer the falls flow full, and in times of drought they’ve even been known to stop.  But today there was one stream of water flowing over the bluff above into a small pool of open water.  I was at the falls in late morning and the sun was beginning to reach against the northern side of the bluffs.  As it heated and melted some of the icicles, they would come crashing down with the sound echoing throughout the ravine.

The good, bad, and the ice

With the coldest week of our winter so far, the weather has been perfect for the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships that were held at Lake Nokomis this weekend.  Attracting hockey players from all over the world, the games are held outside in the winter landscape of the frozen lake.  No matter the temperature, the players are in their element.  Some teams show up in full hockey uniforms, while others are playing in jeans and red flannel shirts.  But it’s the sport and the camaraderie that’s showcased here.  So that’s the good of our winter weekend.  However the ice also played a sinister part in my weekend.  While I was walking up to the warming tent at the Pond Hockey tournament, I shared an experience that many other Minnesotans have endured this winter.  My feet went out from under me and I landed on the ice, trying to steady myself with my right hand.  Oops! – not the thing to do.  This split-second slip earned me a trip to urgent care and x-rays of my wrist.  Luckily it’s not broken, although it’s done its share of swelling and turning black and blue.  I now have a renewed appreciation of my dominant right hand and all the things I use it for.  Note to self:  Be aware, be alert, take small steps, and concentrate on what you’re doing and where you’re going.  We still have many more weeks of winter to go and, needless to say, I don’t want a repeat performance.

Summer sunset reflection

For the past week we’ve been treated to some spectacular sunsets.  Part of this has been due to residual smoke from fires burning in Canada that has swept into Minnesota, and part has been due to the weather conditions here.  The other night while we were out enjoying an ice cream cone, I noticed that the western sky was setting up for what looked like a great sunset.  I scurried home to get my camera, then headed out to find a choice spot with a great foreground to make my photographic image of the setting sun.  As would happen, the conditions were changing rapidly.  I pulled into the parking lot of a commercial building that overlooks the interstate; mind you, not the “choice” spot for a great image.  But although what I saw looking to the west was not photogenic, what I saw as a reflection in the building behind me caught my eye.  With the curves in the glass and its separate panels, the sunset took on a look that reminded me of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”  The colors of the sky seemed to swirl about in the reflection, yet were anchored by the lamp and its post.  So although I didn’t find what I was expecting, I was delighted at what was presented to me by chance.