Slowly our summer season is coming to a close. The hours of sunlight are diminishing each day, the nights are cooler, and the landscape is losing its green lushness.
Walking in a field the other day I noticed the remainders of what had once been blooming dandelions. Their colors were gone and their skeletons stood tall above the other drying vegetation. Here they seemed proud of their intricate structure and proud of having survived the recent winds. There was no way to know how much longer the remaining blossom stems and seed would remain intact – a few hours, a day, a week – and yet they made a statement to me of resilience and beauty.
Tuesday morning we packed up our bicycles, a credit card, and a change of clothing, drove northwest 180 miles to Akeley, Minnesota where we met a friend, and started riding the Heartland State Trail. This trail was one of the very first rail-to-trail projects in the United States. We had about 15 drops of rain as we began our ride east to the town of Walker. After a lunch stop we connected with the Paul Bunyan State Trail, turning northwest. And as luck would have it we were being pushed along by a southeast wind and accompanied by overcast skies to keep the summer heat at bay. After 42 miles of riding through fields, forests, and remnants of logging and railroad towns we arrived in Bemidji. Sleep came easily after the fresh-air, exercise, and a delightful dinner on a patio overlooking Lake Bemidji.
The next morning we woke to a dark-cloud sky, winds gusting from the south and southwest, and whitecaps rolling over the lake surface. There was no one along the beach except the gulls and geese. The sun would break through the clouds, but the wind continued to howl. We took our time before getting back on our bikes, waiting for the winds to shift again, which they did, now blowing from the northwest – perfect for pushing us the 42 miles back on the trails to where we started in Akeley.
It was a great two-day adventure. There were stories told and laughs shared amongst the three of us as the miles passed by under our bike tires. The scenery was beautiful, the trails were good, the bicycling was invigorating, and the people we met along the way were delightful — a perfect way to take in summer in northern Minnesota.
Happy summer solstice and summer season! For all those days in the depths of winter when we grumbled about the cold and snow we now have the long days of sun and the heat of summer. It’s a time of blue skies, short sleeves, carefree shoes, lakes, fishing, and relaxation.
I have recently updated and combined my blog and website (https://lindastaatsphoto.com/) and I invite you to take a look around. You will see a menu ribbon or a dropdown option for navigation. There are three galleries with my photographic images – florals, architecture and designs, and landscapes and nature. These will help you understand the way I see the world around us. As we get closer to winter I will be adding a section for this year’s offering of holiday cards and 2022 (oh my!) desk calendars. And on my blog page is a place where you can sign up to receive emails anytime I have a new post (which is generally two to three times a month).
As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments. My blog continues to share the change of seasons and the scenes that I see, whether in the upper Midwest where I live or on the road with new adventures. Thanks for coming along on the ride with me; there’s still much to see, experience, and share!
And a credit to Greg Buzicky for the above photo, on a beautiful (and successful) evening of fishing!
This COVID year has seemed long and never-ending, and yet it hasn’t actually been a full year. Many of us say we’re tired of this and just want to get back to “normal.” Yes we’ve been unable to do many of the things we usually do, and yes we’ve been unable to physically visit with the friends and family we usually do, and yes our lives have been changed. But it has also given us the chance for many positive things. IF we have looked with an open and accepting mind and attitude. This year has given us the opportunity to try different and new things and experience things we might not have otherwise. This may be a long list (20 items for the year 2020) but hang with me and think about these things I mention and then think of the things I have overlooked that you have done or experienced. It has certainly not been a wasteful year. And those of us that are alive and well can be thankful that we are here.
- Have you reached out to someone just to see if they’re okay? If there’s anything they need? Do they need a package of toilet paper that you see is available at the store at this one very moment?
- Have you grasped this opportunity to be at home with your kids and taught your son how to ride a bike? And then joined him on numerous bike rides and seen his confidence grow with each one?
- Have you had friends or family make a mask for you? Someone that has taken their time to sew something so essential to all of us – someone that certainly cares for you and for your health?
- Have you been there when your young child falls and gets hurt, comes running to you for your hug and love? Normally you might have been at work, but with a shutdown your job has been remote so you’re at home with your child.
- Have you gone for a walk in your neighborhood or area? Maybe you’ve walked the same path you’ve taken before and maybe you’ve watched as the trees leafed out in the spring, threw their leafy shade over your path in the summer, turned a brilliant orange, yellow, or red in the fall, and then rattled through the air as they fell to the ground around your feet.
- Have you explored a new path? Perhaps you looked down a sidewalk, trail, or road and wondered “what’s down this way?” Why not try it and see something new.
- Have you taken the time to read a book? Maybe it’s one you’ve always meant to read but never have. Maybe it’s one that you like the cover and decided to jump in and see what it’s all about. Or maybe it’s one that a friend has shared with you, and gotten you hooked on a series, and you’ve consumed the entire series by summer’s end.
- Have you made a meal for a friend or loved one and delivered it for them to enjoy? Maybe they were unable to cook or maybe they just needed some cheering up. Maybe it was food that they normally wouldn’t make or maybe it was a pizza they picked up at a neighborhood restaurant.
- Have you binge-watched an old TV show that you didn’t see when it was first on? Or maybe you finally took the time to watch a movie that’s been on your list for longer than you remember?
- Have you learned a new technology? This seems to be the year of Zoom meetings and get-togethers. Imagine what this year would have been like without the internet, cell phones, cable TV, streaming services and all those “techie” things we now take for granted in our everyday lives. How amazing that so many young children are becoming adept at technology, especially with remote learning; they’re leaps and bounds beyond some of us.
- Have you tried something new in the kitchen? Maybe it’s a recipe that you’ve always looked at and thought was way too much trouble. Maybe it’s that one dish you remember your grandmother always made and was so delicious. Maybe it’s cupcakes and the fancy way to frost them so they look like they’ve come from the bakery…and they turn out better than you thought they would for a first attempt.
- Have you thanked the people closest to you for taking care of themselves and keeping healthy? They have showed you they care for you and your health by being careful themselves.
- Have you met a friend at an outside park to catch up and enjoy their company? Was it a sunny day and you could sit outside, or maybe it was a rainy and blustery day but you made the best of it by sitting under a shelter on opposite ends of a picnic table to keep your social distance from one another?
- Have you laid down in the grass (or on the dock) and looked up at that big blue sky overhead and watched the white billowing clouds float by? Maybe you saw the cloud shaped like a horse, riding on the wind. Maybe you saw the fish-shaped cloud riding the waves. Or maybe you found a cloud shaped like a bear, but remembered it’s only a cloud, and you’re safe where you are.
- Have you stepped out into that first snowy day and raised your head, opened your mouth, and caught those first big snowflakes on your tongue, just like you did when you were a child?
- Have you put up your Christmas/holiday lights early this year? The long and dark nights of winter have crept up on us again and sometimes seem to stretch into the distance for many months. Maybe those lights are meant to cheer up your neighbors during their dark nights. And maybe those lights are meant to cheer up yourself.
- Have you chosen to step away from the news and media, even for a short period of time? There’s a wonderful world of peace and quiet around and within each of us. Sometimes it takes some real prodding to go there. Sometimes we learn things about ourselves – the things that matter most to us, and the people that make our lives so much richer.
- Have you thanked a Veteran this year for their service to our country? And similar, have you thanked a health-care worker, a firefighter, an EMT, a law enforcement officer, a day-care worker, a scientist, a researcher, or a teacher for their work that has been so crucial this year?
- Have you stopped for a minute and taken a deep breath and smelled the air that surrounds you, listened for any sounds that are nearby, and with your eyes really looked at all the beauty that is within your sight?
- Have you made plans for things you want to do when all our restrictions are lifted and we’re “back to normal?” I hope that they include some of the new things we’ve taken the opportunity to experience this year – the new things that we now know are so crucial to our intersecting lives with the rest of our neighbors and humanity.
With gratitude, Linda
The summer season is full of hardy flowers that can tolerate the heat of August. We’ve had our share of high temps and humidity and some of the gardens are showing the stress of the late summer. But the zinnias and sunflowers are still bright. Their colors represent this season well and they flourish to remind us to enjoy the blooms and the time that remains before fall comes gliding in on those cool and longer nights.