Yesterday morning it snowed, the first snowfall of the year. The temperatures plunged below zero, and in one night some trees dropped all their leaves in a panicked attempt to keep up with the temperature change. It was amazing to see the blankets of green leaves covering the grass and snow and gathering in the street. My planned trip to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum took on a new twist, as I had to gear up for winter hiking, but I got some nice shots of fall of color with a bit of snow on it.
It was my first trip to the arboretum, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a lot of fun tromping though the trails, making first tracks on the first snow of the season, photographing flowers and trees with little snow caps and catching droplets of snowmelt in the sunlight. We saw little waterfalls, quick-moving streams and even quicker-moving wild turkeys (maybe the snow made them think it was November). We got a little lost, but it was nice to just explore without having to worry about direction. We went where the interesting photos were and it worked out just fine.
It seems wild to me that only a few weeks ago I was eating at Lucia’s outside patio in a tank and shorts. Yesterday’s snow had melted by lunchtime, but we got some light flurries today, and tomorrow we’re expected to get up to a few inches of accumulation, so it looks like winter is here. For me, I’ve got a log burning in the fireplace and a whole chicken roasting in the oven. Winter, bring it on.
The first year I lived in Minnesota, I heard a lot of talk about the state fair. It seemed like the Minnesotan event of the summer, the one thing that everyone seemed to go to. I was intrigued. I’d never been to a state fair before. Oh, sure, Michigan has one, and New York has one too. New Jersey even has a state fair (although I didn’t know until I looked it up just now)! And yet I’d never been to any of them.
Growing up, I thought only people who raised livestock went to the fair. I was slightly disturbed by the whole idea, having grown up reading and watching Charlotte’s Web. I didn’t want to see cute little(!) pigs and cows that would be eaten when they got home. My parents weren’t interested in going to the fair either, but for different reasons. It seems the Michigan State Fair is held in a somewhat sketchy part of town. Neither of my parents grew up going to fair; it just wasn’t the thing to do there. So I was pretty surprised to find out that it IS the thing to do here in Minnesota. So that first year, Jim and I hopped in the car and drove out to the fair to see what it was all about.
On that first visit we didn’t really check a map and headed north to see what there was to see. It seems the northern part of the state fair is where the farm equipment is displayed. I’d never seen so many tractors in my life, and was in awe of the size and variety of tractors and tillers available. Being a city girl, I didn’t even know what a lot of the stuff was used for! It was a real eye-opener for me, knowing that I truly was in the heart of farm country. We also got to see some of of the logging equipment in use, classic cars and tractors and the dog show. It wasn’t until we started to get hungry that we ventured over to the south end of the fair.
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One of my favorite things about Spring in Minnesota is how green everything becomes. After only one hard rain this Spring, the trees are covered in a soft layer of moss and have taken on a velvety texture. The grass is starting to turn green too, and as we move into April the moss and grass will thicken, creating the feeling of a soft green forest with a city inside it. Usually by May the moss is gone, and Minneapolis looks like any other Midwestern city, but for at least a few weeks it feels a little bit like the Pacific Northwest.
Winters in Minnesota are usually very bright and very, very cold. We had plenty of that in January but now we seem to have hit a warm spell. This would be a good thing, except the warmth has come with rain and cloudy, gloomy days that mentally feel worse than the cold, sunny days and make me yearn for springtime. On days like this I try to surround myself with bring colors or bright locations to fight the depressive dreariness, but today I’m just longing to ride my bike.
The photo above was taken when we got a brief break in the cloud cover and the sun shone in on my racing steed, which is spending its winter in the warmth of the dining room. Seeing it in the sun brings back fond memories of the summer rides where I was so hot I thought I might melt down over the handlebars and two water bottles just weren’t enough to keep me hydrated for an entire outing. It reminds me of lunches at The Tin Fish and the twists and turns of the creek trail. Summers here are short but are truly fantastic. Is it May yet?
This evening we’re getting our first big snowfall of the winter season. We’ve gotten a few inches already, and should be getting a few more before the morning. Lake Calhoun is almost completely frozen, although I wouldn’t attempt to walk across it just yet. It’s shaping up to be a very nice, white, frozen December and should be very pretty for Christmas this year.