07.05.13 i love a parade

One of the highlights of Fourth of July at the cabin is the Side Lake parade. It’s got everything: waving princesses in convertibles, families on floats, marching bands in full regalia, and plenty of candy flying through the air. People line the streets with camp chairs, cars, and coolers. Everyone’s decked out in red, white, and blue. It’s a tradition that reinvents itself every year but always remains true to our memories of parades past.

blog070513_sweetpea186/365: sweet pea

06.30.13 and baby makes…100?

Near the cabin there is a sandpit that we visit daily. It is a treasure trove of cool nature discoveries from tadpoles and red foxes to wildflowers and insects. When I spied this weird, bumpy spider, Sawyer guessed right away that it was covered with eggs. And, sure enough, when I leaned in, I could see the individual eggs mounded on the spiders back!

blog063013181/365: spider with eggs

05.27.13 birds of a feather, part one

Yesterday, the kids and I were invited to a bird show. It’s a constant fluttering rainbow of scarlet, orange, yellow, and brilliant blue and it happening in my parents’ backyard. I don’t have a long enough lens for wildlife but I figure this one is all about the color and, that, I could capture.

blog052713_indigobunting147/365: indigo bunting

05.08.13 sweet peeps

My grandparents raised chickens on their southern Minnesota farm. As a little girl, I loved all the animals on the farm, but the baby chicks especially. When they arrived, I was given a cardboard box and allowed to take a chick or two into the house to care for during my visit.

Yesterday, Zola brought two fluffy, peeping baby chicks home from preschool to care for overnight. The sight, sound, and smell of those chicks brought back so many sweet memories of my childhood. I’m happy that, now, Zola gets a turn to experience the wonder of brand new life.

blog050813_chicks128/365: Zola & Brad handling chicks with care

02.03.13 shadow effect

Nothing can sneak around when there is snow on the ground – not even the shadows. The snow makes a memento of every footstep, records every fallen stick, reveals the passage of time. Every mark shows signs of movement, while the wild horse stands still as a statue, only effecting to block out the sun.

blog020313_wildhorse34/365: wild horse in the snow

01.26.13 of birds, and baths, and beating hearts

I am amazed at the birds who winter here. That their tiny, hearts and hollow bones can withstand the unrelenting cold. Life itself seems impossible in this season. Can such barren branches again bear leaves, even fruit? Will we wake one day to find the whole world turned green again overnight?

The life force is there sleeping beneath the snow, nurtured under fur and feathers, incubating in the depths of the seeds. I take heart in knowing that nature always finds a way. And so do we.

blog012613_birbath26/365: birdbath in the garden, january

01.21.13 our nest is best

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the whole “good fences make good neighbors” thing when it comes to certain creatures. Like birds.

I guess I find the idea of avian housemates charming. We have a family of sparrows living under the roof for years. Then, ast summer, we welcomed a young couple to our bedroom windowsill. They set up house and started a family right underneath the air conditioner.

I’ll admit, they were a little noisy. But I loved having them. We could hear the peeps of their babies as the parents darted in and out of this impossibly tight space tending to their little flock. And we were only mildly irritated by the early morning arias sung so very loud and so very near our bed.

When they moved out in the fall and we put the air conditioner in storage, I couldn’t bring myself to clear out the sill. Their nest was so cozy and so lovely. A tightly woven mix of textures from hair and feathers to crinkly plastic and bits of fabric, all in the most beautiful earthy brown and gray palette.

The other day, when it was too cold to go outside and I needed a picture, I pushed open the window and studied this homey assemblage still nestled in the sill. I’m glad we could all share a nest. And I hope they come home in the spring.

blog_012113_birdsnest21/365: birds nest detail

01.06.13 think pink

It was a tough choice for today’s photo after a trip to the Minnesota Zoo with the kids yesterday. Lots of fun shooting colorful, exotic lifeforms in the artificial tropics. It’s extra-sweet eye candy in the midst of winter! So, while there were photos of jaw-droppingly cool corals, a red-ruffed lemur, and some lovely yellow orchids, I couldn’t pass up the flamingo shot.

They look as good through the lens as they do in the front yard. Hope you enjoy this tropical moment as much as I did.

blog010613_flamingoes6/365: pink flamingoes

If you’re interested in seeing more, I’ll be posting daily outtakes on my Avant Garden Photography Facebook page from time to time.


This is a photo I’ve wanted to share for a while. Every time I tried to post, I struggled with what to write. I kept thinking of the freedom of the birds soaring through the air and how each of us desires that kind of peaceful, effortless grace as we journey through our lives. I kept thinking about my grandmother, the beauty of her spirit and the peace of no longer struggling with a tired body and a long illness. She passed away last month. I miss her so much already and I can’t quite believe she’s really gone. But I also can’t think about her without a tremendous swell of love,  a smile for the person she was and all that she meant to me.

sandhill cranes