The Simple Joy of Sunshine

As summer becomes more of a distant memory, these increasingly rare warm and sunny days feel ever more glorious. When the majority of the days now are cloudy, windy, and just plain chilly, I want to soak every ounce of sunshine out of days like this. Walking around without a jacket on a northern Minnesota October day is a gift from God that is to be truly appreciated.

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Roland running off some energy before gymnastics class at Diamond Point Park on Lake Bemidji. Walking with my family along a lake in the lovely sunshine makes my heart happy. I hope these are the kind of memories I carry with me through life (and not the tantrums, the bickering, the chores, the stress…).

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I could sit here and watch the waves and birds and falling leaves all day (on a day like this at least).

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This boy absolutely loves the warm sunshine. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact he lived the first three years of his life in Congo- a climate a bit different than Minnesota). The poor kid does not know what is coming. Enjoy it now, Roland!

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What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.

These are but trifles, to be sure;

but scattered along life’s pathway, the good they do is inconceivable.

~Joseph Addison

A View from Above

The peak of autumn foliage is such a fleeting thing. It seems that every year, right when the colors are getting really good, the wind and rain decide to pay a visit and before you know it, all those gold and amber leaves are falling to the ground. It makes it difficult to plan an outing specifically to enjoy the peak of fall color. Between work schedules and weather conditions, we ended up visiting Itasca State Park just a little after the peak started to fade away. Some of the trees were already bare, but it made for pretty leaf- covered paths.

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We took a short walk to the 100- foot- high fire tower. It was a chilly and blustery day so my hands went numb gripping the metal rails as I trudged up the stairs. The height did not really bother me, but the sensation of a strong gust of wind blowing me off the tower was a little unsettling. Roland, our brave boy, did just fine with his daddy’s help.

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We were rewarded with this view from the top of the fire tower.The forest and lakes extended as far as we could see. I thank God that I am able to live near such a great expanse of undeveloped, beautiful land.

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Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

-Albert Camus

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The wind was really beginning to blow so we quickly descended the tower and hiked down a nearby trail. We came across this picturesque lake and thought it would be a good spot for an autumn family picture.

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Roland and his daddy, enjoying being outdoors together on a lovely autumn day.

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A Time to Play

There is a small county park near our house that Roland and I usually visit about once a week. There is something there for both of us to enjoy: a playground for Roland and a walking path through the woods for me. We have a routine: Roland gets some of his crazy energy out at the playground first and then we head down the path into the woods. It has become a good lesson in taking turns and being willing to participate in an activity that somebody else enjoys. I also have found that taking a nice walk is a calming transition from the high- energy activity at the playground to the getting loaded up in the car for the drive home.

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Is there anything more cheery than yellow aspen leaves against a bright blue sky? You have to take time to enjoy those rare sunny autumn days.

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Running through the fallen leaves, a quintessential autumn experience.

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One of my favorite things is admiring the way sunlight gently filters through the leaves, especially when the leaves are showcasing their autumn glory.

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Light is sweet, and it is pleasant for the eyes to see the sun.

So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity.

Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment.

Ecclesiastes 11:7-9

Autumn by the Lake

On one of our last warm days of Autumn, Roland and I took an outing to Norway Beach on Cass Lake. Matt was home sick so this was just a mommy and son day. We spent the afternoon leisurely strolling (and playing) on the beach, soaking up the warm sunshine and fresh air, and admiring the beauty of the lake.

Roland was in a hurry to walk down the stone stairs to the beach.

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There is something pretty magical about water. The brilliance of the sunlight reflecting off of it and the soothing sound of waves softly lapping upon the sandy shore touch a special spot in my soul. I do miss the mountains of Idaho, but I have begun to appreciate the pure pleasure of walking along a lake shore (and northern Minnesota has plenty to offer).

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The simple beauty of a leaf.

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I love early fall when there are so many vibrant colors all on the same tree branch.

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Give this boy a stick and sand and he is occupied for HOURS.

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A lovely place to sit.

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This is the day that the Lord has made;
    let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

There is Fungus Among Us

One thing I have noticed while walking around the forests in Minnesota is that there are A LOT of mushrooms. There are mushrooms everywhere: on the ground, on dead trees, on live trees, in dense forests, in my backyard. I have seen them in so many colors: red, bright orange, yellow, brown, white and also in just as many shapes. We never saw such a multitude and variety of mushrooms when we lived in Idaho. I suppose the moist soil of Minnesota provides an ideal environment for them to flourish.

Mushrooms are not only interesting to look at, but they also have a key role to play in the ecosystem. When they have a symbiotic relationship with trees, mushrooms help the trees glean minerals and water from the soil while trees provide the mushrooms with necessary carbohydrates. When mushrooms feed on rotting wood (Saprophytism), they aid in decomposition, which returns nutrients back to the soil.

Nature does nothing uselessly. 

-Aristotle 

Roland excitedly pointing to a pretty, bright red mushroom.

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Mushrooms, at once both lowly and mysterious, add their share of intrigue to the quiet forest floor.

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These shelf mushrooms looked like they would be perfect handholds for climbing the tree. They were surprisingly sturdy, too. We wiggled one, expecting it to tear off or crumble, but it held on tight and kept it’s form. I was pretty impressed with their resilience.

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On this outing we hiked a small segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail, a 4,600 mile trail that traverses seven states as it connects North Dakota to New York. It is the longest of the 11  National Scenic Trails, but probably one of the least well- known.

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This was our first hike of the season that really felt like fall. The leaves were still mostly green, but it was chilly enough to bundle up in sweatshirts. Fall is in the air and it excites me! Autumn is by far my favorite season and this one will be the first Roland is home with us. I can not wait for him to experience the wonder of the world changing into this most beautiful and magical of seasons.

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The ever quiet and peaceful Lake Erin.

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