Moonset over the autumn prairie

With delightful autumn weather forecast for the day, we headed out before sunrise this morning to Wild River State Park.  This Minnesota park is north of the Twin Cities and is located on the St. Croix River. Although there was the promise of afternoon temps in the upper 70’s, the morning had a cool feel to it.  We drove down to the canoe landing on the river and could see the fingers of fog stretching into the air and creating a veil over the fall colors on the Wisconsin shoreline.  As we turned the opposite direction facing away from the river, we were greeted by the full moon as it was making its way behind the hillside.  The prairie stretched out before us filled with golden grasses;  the birdhouses were empty at this early time of the morning.  The hillside was brilliant with the colors of fall – golds, oranges, reds – all in a hush before the sunlight brought them out into a blaze of bright color.  Silently we watched the moon descend behind the hill and turned our attentions back to the river, accompanied by the geese and the ducks that were flying by.

The rush and pause of winter

Here we are past the middle of December and quickly hurtling into the final week before Christmas.  Everyone seems to be moving at an exaggerated pace trying to accomplish all that needs to be done before the holidays.  In search of some very specific Christmas presents we headed north of the Cities today to Marine on St. Croix, Minnesota.  This small city was founded in 1839 and was the site of the first commercial sawmill along the St. Croix River.  As we parked the car I could hear a rush somewhere nearby and upon following the sound I saw the cascading water of the creek that was emptying into the St. Croix River.  It made a musical sound as it tumbled downward, and here in this one small spot was both the rush of the waterfall and the pause and suspension of the ice on the banks and the rocks and trees that were laying over and near the creek.  I was reminded of how important it is at this season to enjoy the rush and the hustle and bustle of all we’re doing, but to also pause and appreciate the season of light and Christmas, the beauty of nature, and the friends and family that we enjoy.  Wishing you the best of Christmas this week and into the coming new year.

The perfect photographic conditions

I had more than one reader ask about the foggy morning that I wrote about last weekend.  Each person said they wanted to see one of the photos that had gotten me so very excited about the early morning time that I was on the St. Croix River at Wild River State Park.  I’m pleased to say that I had a difficult time choosing which photo to post for my response as I had more than one “favorite” image for that chance morning.  But I narrowed it down to this image “Single tree island, early autumn” because it seems to sum up the whole morning.  The fog is hanging in the air and over the river; the water is still so as to show the perfect reflection; the tree and the opposite hillside are glowing with the colors of fall, and the sun is just burning through the fog providing some blue sky and some beautiful lighting on the tree and the island.  Within two minutes the scene changed — the sunlight was harsh and the fog had disappeared for that morning.  I realized how fortunate I was to be at this place at this time on this morning.  (And on another note…my lost cellphone was turned in by an alert hiker who found it along the trail near this very spot.  Perhaps I was too caught up in my excitement over these perfect photographic conditions that I was unaware of other things such as cellphones.)

Golden colors of fall

Autumn is quickly spreading across Minnesota, starting in the north and moving southward every day.  Saturday morning I left the house before dawn and drove north to Wild River State Park, a beautiful park located right along the St. Croix River.  The morning was cold with frost and blue skies, but as I approached the river valley I could see a thick blanket of fog hovering over the water.  I quickly parked, collected my camera gear, and headed along a trail that follows the river.  In the stillness of the morning with the sounds and sights muffled by the fog layer, I enjoyed a delightful hour of fall colors.  All too soon the sun burned through the fog, the temperature rose, and the wind picked up.  I was delighted to see a bald eagle soaring high overhead, and later a deer ran by, obviously hearing my approach before I had even seen her.  The time passed quickly amongst the golden leaves of the forest, and when I returned to my car I realized I was missing my cell phone.  It must have fallen somewhere along a trail (or maybe even into the river).  I reported the loss to the park staff and drove home with the hope that someone might find it or it might become a new treasure for someone’s geocaching trip.  As the remainder of the day wore on and no word on my phone I mentally retraced my steps and thought that I might have dropped it near the front of where my car had been parked.  So this morning I made the pre-dawn drive back to Wild River State Park, only this morning was a completely different scene.  The night had been warmer, so there was no frost and no fog – only the bright sun as it crested the bluffs on the Wisconsin side of the river.  I searched the parking lot to no avail, but took the opportunity to hike another trail further north in the park.  With the bright sunlight the trees were glowing in their shades of yellow and gold.  I appreciated the contrast between the two mornings and remembered that scenes and places are never the same, even when separated by only 24 hours.  I have since replaced my cell phone, and I am not annoyed in the least at the “reason” I had to visit the park on two consecutive beautiful fall mornings.

A drive-in delight on a hot summer’s night

It’s summer here in the mid-west.  We’ve had temps in the 80’s and 90’s, and humidity that sometimes matched those temperatures.  One of the best ways to cool off on a hot summer’s night is to be on or near the water, whether it’s a pond, a lake, or a river.  So last night we headed over to Hudson, Wisconsin and with our feet in the water, we watched the sun set over the St. Croix River.  It was beautiful and delightful, especially with all the sailboats and recreational boats on the river.  Afterwards, it seemed only appropriate to finish off the evening with some cool ice cream.  We were on the east side of Saint Paul and stopped at the Dari-ette Drive-In.  Here you can order from your car or walk up to the window.  We ordered our ice cream and sat outside at a table to enjoy the evening.  With its neon sign, the flashing ice cream cone, and the lights of the cars going by, I couldn’t help but pull out my camera to photograph one of the last few drive-ins that still exist in the state.  If you’re in Saint Paul or passing through, I’d certainly recommend a stop at the Dari-ette Drive-In.