I could not have timed a trip up north any better. Where I thought fall colors would have peaked already, they were in full force. On my way to Duluth I followed old county roads that traveled around freshly mown pastures with round hay bales, through small forgotten towns, and along side deep forests of magnificent colors. Bends in the road opened up to rolling hills of golden birch dotted with evergreens that took my breath away. It was well worth the extra hour added to my trip.
Mom and I then spent a day in Bayfield, Wisconsin and our drive there was equally impressive. The oak trees were a burnt orange color, the maples were anything from crimson to peach to bright tangerine, and acres upon acres of golden birch seemed lit from within. There were several times on our drive where we felt merely viewing the colors just wasn't enough- it was like we wanted to gather them up in our arms and never let go. After lunch in town, we took the short Iron Bridge hike and it was like walking under a golden lampshade made of maple and birch leaves. The weather remained sunny and warm so we also walked around town and visited a few shops. Things definitely move at their own pace there, and we enjoyed the leisurely day.
Before my drive home this morning, Mom, Dad and I walked along the new section of the Duluth Lakewalk that starts just down the street from my parents' house. Dad marveled at the colors and said his dad used to quote, "Mother Nature always blushes before she disrobes." Dad wasn't sure if Grandpa had read it somewhere or if it was something he had made up, but it is a lovely quote all the same. We walked until the trail met the shore, because what is a trip to Duluth without a view of the Lake?
I posted some pictures of the weekend in our gallery under The Outdoors.
The rain let up by late morning today so after lunch I went out and planted 31 tulips and four daffodils in various sections in our backyard garden areas. We've got a lot of pesky rodents who would love to eat these delicious bulbs or the tender greens they produce but if even ONE flower pops up next spring I can be happy, though I'm hoping for quite a bit more than that.
I accomplished ALMOST everything I had set out to do this weekend!
Friday night I went to my aunt and uncle's house to look at a few things she was giving away. I came home with a little toy chest that my cousins had used as kids, the very one they used to play hide and seek in, she told me. I also have a little rocking chair that I thought might be fun to re-finish. But the things I am most happy to have taken are the things from Grandma and Grandpa's farm: an old milk can, and the milking stool Grandpa made. As far as I'm concerned, I agree with Diane that I'd rather leave the old peeling paint on that stool than try to scrape off what Grandpa had painted on himself.
On Saturday, to compensate for my unsuccessful attempt at sleeping in, I lounged in my PJs until almost noon. In the afternoon I went to Adelmann's Farm Market on Highway 13 not far from our house. It's a quaint roadside stand that I pass by everyday and I've been meaning to see what's there. An elderly woman runs the shop and she has the usual fruits and vegetables, as well as crafty gift items and even home made canned goods. I bought a jar of blackberry jam (which was delicious on my english muffin this morning), a couple of pumpkins, several gourds, and a few ears of Indian corn. What am I going to do with all the gourds and corn? I HAVE NO IDEA. But they are neatly arranged in baskets as the dining room table's centerpiece. I think it's because my mom pulls out her collection of gourds every fall and carefully places them in a wicker cornucopia. Because it's been ingrained in my mind that THIS IS SOMETHING YOU DO EVERY FALL. I love my mom.
Then I went to Gerten's to find tulip bulbs. I picked out several colors and varieties that bloom from early season to mid-summer. They all got mixed up in my bag of course so it'll be a fun surprise to see what pops up next spring. I even bought a few daffodils. The only thing I was unable to accomplish is actually planting them since it's raining today.
I was driving home from work today, and was a mere two blocks from the house when a dog ran across the street. Except I quickly realized it wasn't a dog, it was a COYOTE. He was running towards the field behind an office building nearby and I nearly ran the car off the road just trying to get a good look at him. He certainly was a beautiful creature. While we've heard rumors that there are coyotes in Eagan, and I think I even heard one howling earlier this summer, I've never actually seen any. Especially this close to our home.
Now the biggest question still remains: Is it kai-OAT-ee, or simply KAI-oat?
Dallas and I got up early this morning to go for a much-needed two and a half mile run/walk. I strapped on her little backpack with water bottles in the pockets to tire her out faster. She has boundless energy so anything we can do to sap some of it makes our days a little easier.
I don't always like taking Dallas out because she misbehaves so much with me. She tends to meander, sniff and pee which is fine, but any time she sees another dog she goes bonkers.
This is usually how it goes: We're walking, and I see up ahead that there's another person with a dog (sometimes there are two or three and even FOUR dogs- when I see this I almost give up and go home). As we approach the other party, I can feel the leash get tighter and see Dallas's ears perk up. At this point we usually pass to the other side of the street. We're fine, the other party is fine, but the leash is still tight. This is the calm before the storm. Suddenly Dallas jumps up and because of the gentle leader leash that puts most of the pull near her nose as opposed to her neck, she pirouettes about three times, and if she's really in a frenzy she'll spin so recklessly that she'll land her paws on my stomach and stumble over me as she clamors to catch her balance. I curse at her a few times and struggle to not look like a complete idiot (which is silly because the dog and I already look ridiculous at this point), meanwhile the other dog is oblivious to Dallas and walks by so obediently as its owner laughs nervously while giving me eyes full of pity.
This is why I don't like to walk the dog.
But this morning I discovered a break-through. Taking Dallas out first thing in the morning when she's still a little sleepy makes her behave so much better. Running with her also doesn't give her time to get crazy over something.
The true test was when we passed the two ladies that walk their five dogs every morning. As usual we passed to the other side of the street and Dallas was calm, though still curious. One of the ladies saw my unusually docile dog and joked, "Can you train my dog?" as hers was pooping in someone's yard and getting tangled up in his leash. I replied, "Oh mine's usually really bad, especially around other dogs." Right as I said that Dallas did one mini-pirouette and I said, "See?" We all laughed and they apologized, but by that point Dallas was all, 'eh, I'm tired let's just go'.
I'll take one half-hearted twirl over thirty seconds of whining, frantic spinning and embarrassment any day.
Our household is caught up in the Olympics craze. Every night we turn on the TV to watch the variety of games, and we've found ourselves cheering for the US athletes, and watching events I never even realized were sports. A few nights ago Rob watched synchronized diving and was surprised at how technical and difficult it is. Last night I was up way past my bedtime to see Nastia Liukin take the gold and Shawn Johnson win silver in the gymnastics individual all-around competition.
Watching the Olympics really makes one think about what the human body is capable of (Michael Phelps, for example). Or in my case, makes me feel guilty for struggling to find the motivation to walk the dog every day! But, I've also realized that it's about personal best, striving to improve yourself and beat your own record, and also knowing the things you are good at. So what if I can hardly move with any fluidity on a sandy beach let alone play beach volleyball with any amount of skill. If they handed out medals for Raleigh Home Economics, I'd win gold every time.
The week so far has been an enjoyable one, to say the very least.
We had perfect weather over the weekend with low humidity and comfortable temperatures.
My uncle Todd and aunt Marylou took us out to lunch on Sunday on their way through town after visiting my cousin Meridith. Marylou got to see our house for the first time, and Dallas took a particular liking to Todd. When Rob was showing off all the tricks Dallas knows, every time she successfully did one Todd would give her such a spirited congratulation that she would run over and sit down in front of him to receive the reward of affection. It was nice to catch up with them, and to hear about my cousin Eric's recent wedding on a 10,000 foot mountain in Telluride, Colorado, the crazy windstorm that declared their Illinois county a disaster zone, and the progress Todd and Dad are making on the house. We had lunch at Granite City in Eagan. It was a meal that Todd had been craving for quite some time and in case there was any doubt at all, TODD LOVED HIS BLEU PEPPERCORN BURGER.
After seeing Dad's family on Sunday, we had a nice dinner last night with my mom's family at my aunt Diane and uncle Roger's house. It was a chance to see my parents, aunts and uncles, and even two grandmothers! Though the grandmothers aren't my real grandparents, it sort of felt like they were and it was nice to see both of them. Diane had quite the array of food, complete with berries and veggies, delicious grilled salmon, and fruit-garnished iced tea. I love spending time with my family; watching uncle Dean laugh, and hearing about aunt Kristen's stories, seeing Diane's happy summer glow, and hearing Dad and Roger chuckling away about something only they understand. And I love watching how my mom and her sister Diane are so alike. Last night they began talking about one of their shared traits when they suddenly, and in unison, broke into the song "Sisters" by Irving Berlin (from the movie White Christmas).
It really has been a lovely week! I can only hope for more days like these soon.