The other morning dawned cool and calm. There was steam coming off the lake surface, and the sun was a red ball rising into a hazy yellow and murky sky. It was quiet except for the sounds of geese and ducks calling off in the distance. On this day there was never much of a wind so the sky never cleared to it’s usual bright blue.
We’ve had numerous days like this one of hazy sunshine, partly due to increased humidity but also from the smoke of Canadian and northern Minnesota wildfires that have drifted into the area. The sunrises and sunsets have been unusual and unsettling, and yet quite beautiful.
Like many other people, I’ve been feeling the bombardment of so many things that are happening in our lives. I’ve been kept awake at night thinking about the divisiveness that exists in my country, my state, and my city. I’ve lost sleep over the strange happenings of weather – fires in the west that are too huge to imagine the destruction that’s being caused, feet of rain falling from hurricanes making landfall, and the vegetation changes happening here in Minnesota and Wisconsin that’s affecting our wildlife populations of moose, deer, and loons. Then there are the worries of a continuing pandemic that has killed hundreds of thousands here in the US – a number that has already surpassed the combined US combat deaths of World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War; the pain sometimes seems too much to fathom.
For me, turning to nature is a balm over these anxieties. Each morning the earth has completed it’s turn, the darkness of night fades, and the sun returns again. The leaves are now beginning their color change as the calendar approaches autumn. I stand out on the dock where the lake temperature has cooled after the heat of summer but is now warmer than the outside air temperature in the early dawn. The steam rises off the lake, the sun rises over the horizon, and in the distance I can hear the geese calling. Soon they will be leaving this area and migrating south. The air temperature will continue to fall as we slide into winter, and the lake will ice over as our days grow shorter and shorter. And then slowly all these things will reverse. These are the constants I’m trying to focus on and appreciate.
The temperature dropped down into the 30’s overnight. When I woke in the morning, the sun was trying to break through the fog and steam that was coming up off the lake. The air was quiet, without a breeze, but it was filled with the sound of birds – blue jays, robins, woodpeckers, geese, ducks, and loons. It was an early, chilly, and beautiful beginning to a sunny and warm day.