Tag Archives: Changing Seasons

How do I love thee, summer

We’re nearly a third of the way through summer, by Minnesota Transplant’s accounting (I mark the first day of summer as the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend), and here are dozen more ways I’ve been savoring this sweet season.

2020.06.08 walleye

June 8: Eat fresh walleye.

Somehow, I missed listing this flavor of summer on my original list, but of course, dining on walleye is a summer-must in Minnesota. Earlier this month, we drove waaaaay up north to see my parents. My father shared his hard-won bounty with us and fried it up in a pan (he is a master at frying good food; read about his fried eggs here). My Beloved and I gobbled up more than our fair share.

2020.06.08 rhubarb

June 8: Eat rhubarb something.

After our walleye feast, Mom served up bowls of gluten-free rhubarb crisp topped with vanilla ice cream. So sweet and tangy! You should have seen all the rhubarb in her garden! She had a bumper crop.

2020.06.09 radish

June 9: Dip a fresh radish in salt.

Mom gave us a tour of her garden, and while we were admiring her rhubarb, she picked a bunch of radishes. This snack was a crunchy treat.

2020.06.09 bee

June 9: Watch a bumble bee work.

This noisy insect buzzed around sipping nectar and spreading pollen while we were traipsing around the garden.

2020.06.09 watermelon

June 9: Eat watermelon.

Are you sensing a food theme during our visit to the ‘rents? Mom dressed up lunch with a fruit and cheese tray.

2020.06.09 grave

June 9: Place flowers on a grave.

It wasn’t actually me who placed flowers on my brother’s grave when we visited; Mom watered the flowers she had placed there earlier this summer.

2020.06.10 steak

June 10: Eat a freshly grilled steak.

On our return journey south to home, we stopped at my sister’s house and celebrated being carnivores. Check out those grill marks!

2020.06.11 loon

June 11: Listen for a loon.

This bird’s call wasn’t on my original list either, but hearing the distinct, eerie call of a loon is somehow built in a Minnesotan’s DNA. It says home (and also, maybe, buy a lottery ticket). A pair of loons live on lake outside my sister’s house, and this one was making a racket when an eagle threatened her baby.

2020.06.13 al fresco

June 13: Dine al fresco.

My Beloved and I relished in a special occasion: meeting my stepson’s fiancée’s parents for the first time. We dined beneath a tiki hut outside of a Caribbean fusion restaurant. Minnesota was just opening its restaurants more widely after months of pandemic-related closures, so eating out was a real treat (as was meeting my stepson’s future in-laws).

2020.06.15 marigolds

June 15: Appreciate marigolds.

Marigolds’ unpleasant musky odor doesn’t excite the nose, but their bright color demands attention. On a walk to the post office, I admired my neighbor’s marigold presentation in a front yard caldron.

2020.06.20 bouquet

June 20: Arrange a bouquet of fresh flowers.

I can take no credit for creating this lovely crown of fresh daisies and baby’s breath beyond making a phone call to the local florist. She was delighted to create it for me since so many brides have canceled their bloom-festooned occasions this summer. I indulged in this adornment to celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year (and to wear to a very small dinner party we hosted last night).

2020.06.20 bonfire

After our guests departed, I wanted to dance around a bonfire in the back yard, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” style. Alas, it was raining, so we lit some candles under the picnic table umbrella and toasted with a shot of tequila as a nightcap.

2020.06.20 sparkler

June 20: Light a sparkler.

I bet you assumed lighting a sparkler was meant for Fourth of July. Well, I might do that, too, but as a final welcome to the official first day of summer, I lit a sparkler and twirled around the patio, avoiding raindrops. Here’s to squeezing every last bit of joy out of summer, folks!

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

~Puck, in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

 

Winged signs of spring

I’m neither a birder nor a photographer, but I got a real show when I visited my parents in Minnesota recently.

Some people mark the beginning of spring by sighting a robin, but in my parents’ neck of the woods, one might see all kinds of springtime birds. There are 442 species of birds on the official list of Minnesota inhabitants, but I’m not talking about sorts of everyday chirping birds just about everyone has visiting their backyard bird feeder. My parents’ home is remote enough to be nestled on the edge of river, or you might call it a “crik” or possibly a swamp, all depending on the time of year and inches of precipitation. A number of large birds also inhabit the area, apparently because it’s well stocked in fish and small game and whatever else birds eat.

Most of the time, the photos I take of birds (of any size) look something like this:

birds sandhill

See those two blobs in the middle there? Those are two sandhill cranes. You’re just going to have to trust me.

As we drove up to my parents house the first afternoon we arrived, a solemn looking bald eagle observed us from his perch in the middle of a field. Of course, I didn’t have my camera at the ready; I just swiveled my head as I engaged in a staring match driving by. The nest he shared with his mate was clearly visible in the leafless tree bordering the creek, and we saw him frequently during the course of the week as we drove by into town. Eventually, I figured out to have my cell phone camera in hand.

birds eagle

His head is white. Again, trust me.

The bald eagle, once an endangered species, now flourishes across the United States. Even if you’re not all that interested in birds, he’s quite a sight, frequently appearing on lists of the world’s most beautiful birds.

birds eagle flying

This bald eagle wasn’t much for photo shoots. He flew away when I got out of the car.

I also saw a red tail hawk and a pheasant. I’m pretty sure I saw a turkey vulture, too. Here’s my shot of the pheasant.

birds pheasant

Yup, he’s there in the middle, walking away from me.

The birds that put on the most fantastic show were the wild turkeys. Dad lent me his binoculars to observe the males fluffing up their feathers in order to get laid. When they’re strutting about, they look just like they do in those handprint paintings kids do at Thanksgiving with their tail feathers spreading up vertically, sort of like a less colorful peacock. Lots of drama in that mating dance.

The large bird I saw most closely was attracted to the bird feeder in my parents’ yard. I heard it before I saw it though: The pileated woodpecker.

birds woodpecker

I wouldn’t describe myself as a nature girl, but I was amazed to see all these distinctive large birds within a mile of my parents’ house. They were quite beautiful and impressive, bright spots on the otherwise brown not-quite-spring-yet landscape. Signs of more colorful days to come.

Changing seasons, all four in one place

Climate change puts a new perspective on “changing seasons.”

One of the benefits of living in the Midwest, whether it be Minnesota where I grew up or Illinois where I live now, is the change of seasons. We have four distinct seasons through the year. No matter what the weather is now, Midwesterners can be assured it will pass. Mosquito season gives way to the first frost, the snow from a blizzard eventually melts, usually in a spring drizzle.

Climate change, which I heard in a news report yesterday, is real (“Now some 97 percent of climate scientists agree that man-made climate change is a reality. I’m a scientist. I’m trained in medicine. They are very few things in all of science around which 97 percent of scientists agree,” Jim Young Kim, head of the World Bank, said on NPR’s Morning Edition), and besides its alarming implications for life on this planet, it’s messing with my memories.

See, in December, I expect my world to be white. Covered in a thick layer of snow. In June, I expect my lawn to be lushly green.

But this morning when I looked out my bathroom window, I didn’t see winter. I saw all four “changing seasons.” Rain sprinkled from the sky, wetting my deck, like it does on a March afternoon:

spring

And grass in my backyard isn’t covered in snow. It’s thick and bright green:

summer

And just over the fence, a huge pile of brown leaves cover the ground, like they do every autumn:

autumn

But looking up, I saw the spindly branches of naked trees, the sorry wardrobe of a deciduous species:

winter

As part of WordPress.com’s Weekly Photo Challenge, this is how the confusingly  “changing seasons” looked outside my window this morning on Dec. 8:

changing seasons

Changing seasons, all in one December moment.