two weeks ago today, we drove from omaha up to the lake in northern minnesota. we had been home from north carolina for nearly 18 hours, so high time to get moving again…

in omaha, the air had a spring balminess to it that didn’t quite match that of north carolina, but was still a cheerful indicator of winter’s past tense. as we drove further north, however, chilliness began to set in and it soon became evident that winter was not toothless everywhere, just yet. we did see an amazing diversity of bird life – waterfowl migrating back north (pelicans, trumpeter swans, loons), raptors (kestrel, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, osprey), ground birds (turkeys, grouse) and waders (several blue herons, and we heard sandhill cranes, although they stayed out of sight behind the treeline). when we stopped, song birds flitted through the trees (chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, phoebes), and a bluebird flew across the road right in front of us. truly an avian cornucopia!

the landscape, though still clearly in the very early stages of post-winter recovery, was also lovely to drive through in itself. for some reason, the sky never looks the same anywhere else as in northern minnesota. on this particular day, the deep slate-blue of distant clouds, which appeared to be sifting sheets of powdery snow onto neighboring counties, contrasted beautifully with the standing golden remains of last year’s crops, and the air was calm enough for crystalline reflections in ponds and lakes (sometimes, of geographically unlikely beasts).

much as i love new zealand, spending time in minnesota, whatever the season, is always a homecoming.