And just like that, Mother Nature has flipped a switch and we’re at the end of fall. It’s been a glorious and unusually long season this year in the upper Midwest but like all good things it has come to an end. Five days ago the wind was still, the sun was shining, and the only colors remaining were from the oaks with their remaining rusty leaves. Today the temperatures have fallen, the wind has removed any remaining leaves from the trees, and we have a forecast of snow.
Sometimes the change of seasons can be disconcerting to me, especially the ones where the days become shorter and the darkness becomes longer. But I’m reminded that just like the leaves that have fallen from the trees, it is all temporary. There will still be beauty in the coming season and days but it will be in a different palette – one of white – and the landscape will take on a new cloak of loveliness.
Here in Minnesota and Wisconsin we are going through our shoulder time from fall to winter. It’s a time that varies from year to year and also varies in its length. We had snow and cold in mid-October and then an unusual warm stretch in early November, causing the lake ice to begin to freeze, then thaw, and now freeze again. It’s a lovely time to observe the transition with open water and lake ice all at the same time.
With a warm glow the late afternoon sun lit up the opposite shoreline and allowed the trees to be reflected in the open water. The ice had been pushed to the north end of the lake by the strong winds that had blown the previous day. But this for moment, stillness and light came together.
We are experiencing our transition season as winter slowly gives way to spring. In northern Minnesota and Wisconsin it means give and take – warmer temps one day and snow the next. But our waters are starting to thaw, allowing open water for the birds that are beginning to migrate into the area. The oak trees are holding onto their rust-colored leaves, and the air has been heavy with moisture creating some foggy conditions. It almost seems like fall but this time we know there will be green in the landscape and ice-free lakes and ponds soon.
We are in the middle of the transition from fall to winter in Minnesota, and Mother Nature has her own agenda. With fall colors still evident, we had two quick snowfalls. We love the four distinct seasons we have, yet we can be confused when the boundaries are blurred. My neighbors have a beautiful euonymus tree in their front yard. Its leaves are a wonderful pinkish-red in fall, and yet this week the branches were covered with snow. The white made the leaves glow a bit brighter, and contrasted them to the more usual golds and browns that were scattered on the sidewalk below. The wetness of the snow had its affect on the leaves; the next day the tree was bare and the ground was dappled with red.
Last week saw the end of winter with ice-out on our Minnesota lakes. This week we plunged head-first into almost-summer (oops – where was spring?) with green grass nurtured by light rains and warm sunshine. The birds have been singing early in the mornings and there are daffodils and crocus showing off their colors amidst all the burgeoning green.
Last month I posted a photo of the magnolia tree that is outside our front window. At the time the tree had buds and looked rather gangly. She has now come into her prime, graced with large white blossoms, hiding the softest of pinks near the blossom base. It is a joy to see the white petals shimmer in the early morning mist, and then turn almost translucent as the sun reflects off them later in the day. It is one of the short-lived joys of spring that graces our transitioning landscape prior to the arrival of summer.