The nights have a bit of coolness to them now, and the sunshine isn’t quite as hot as it was earlier this month. Our daylight is becoming noticeably shorter as we move closer to fall. The skies are filled with Canada geese flying over, strengthening the wings of the young ones as they prepare for migrating south; their honking fills the air. I noticed these sedum blossoms the other day with spots of color in them. They too are responding to the fast approaching change in the seasons.
August began as it should, sunny and hot – the epitome of a Minnesota summer’s day. The perfect ending to an August day is a lake and ice cream. We were lucky enough to have both the lake and a DQ close by in the Cities. As kids played in the water by the swimming beach, we noticed more and more people coming to the lake as the sunset approached. A storm was developing to the northwest and the clouds began to move in, but luckily they held off long enough for the sun to give up a last hurrah, light up the sky and clouds, and reflect its brilliant colors in the surface of the lake. A group cruised by on their pontoon boat as we sat on a bench and enjoyed our ice cream, the cool breeze coming off the lake, and the beauty of the day’s end.
Today we are on the cusp of the last month of our meteorological summer. As I’m getting ready to turn the page of the calendar to August, it’s not something I want to do, but yet it is reality. These yellows of summer will soon be fading, much as our daylight hours are already diminishing. Yet, I remind myself that change is good and often we must go through change to get to something better. Without the cold and snow of winter, we would not have the beautiful forests and trees that grace our state. Ten years ago I moved to Minnesota – truly a huge change after living 30 years in Washington state. I am amazed at the things I’ve seen and learned, and humbled by the changes in my life. I’ve learned that a mid-west winter can be survived (and embraced) with temperatures that remain below zero; that frozen lakes can be driven on; that hockey can be played on those same frozen lakes; that there are small little “houses” that spring up on those frozen lakes where people ice fish; that a horizon line that goes off into the distance as far as I can see holds immense beauty and openness; that thunderstorms can be as beautiful as they are sometimes destructive; and that the colors of autumn are intense and beautiful, yet they can’t be timed to the calendar each year. But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that life continues and we adjust – we can chose to adapt and embrace those changes and live our lives fully. My life has become bigger with all those changes and new experiences, and I know that there will be more in the future ahead, just like the inevitable change in the seasons.
The landscape is filled with the bright colors of summer now. Everywhere I look I see deep greens accented with yellows, pinks, reds, blues, and whites. The contrasts are clear and glorious. Where once the scenery was mono or duo-tone, we now have an array of shades and hues to rest our eyes on. In our backyard, the coneflowers and rudbeckia are in full flower. They are similar, yet so different in their patterns and petals and I never tire of studying them. It’s a delightful time to get lost and absorb all the wonders that Mother Nature provides during our short-lived summer months in Minnesota.
As the calendar months get closer to turning from summer to fall, I’ve been thinking about the epitome of a Minnesota summer. Although it’s many things to many people, to me it’s characterized by sun, water, and pines. If you live in the urban Twin Cities, a summer highlight is a trip “up north” whether for a weekend or a week. As the car noses northward the landscape changes, the sky gets bluer, the lakes become more numerous, and the smell of pines is evident. It’s here that I relax and breathe deeply – the smells of summer. When the cell phone is out of range and the days are marked by the sunrise and sunset, life becomes simpler and I am more concentrated. Sure, I still try to rush to cram all the “things” I want to do into each day, but it’s a slower sense of urgency. A sense that the day will be delightful no matter what activities take place (or what leisure and quiet is enjoyed). A walk down the path to the lake, some quiet time sitting on the dock watching the sun reflect off the water, and listening to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the fish surfacing, and the loons calling — this, to me, is the epitome of summer in Minnesota.