A usual autumn would have me looking back and sharing grand adventures that happened over the summer. Rather than listing all the adventures that could have been had and the all of the events that have been postponed, with this post I’ll share some of the beautiful things that I have been able to do and see this year. I’ll share them chronologically (mostly) starting from this spring and continuing through fall. The vast majority are from Duluth or within an hour or so drive, as I’ve stuck close to home. As you’ll gather from my pictures, I’ve spent much of the time outside, away from my computer as much as possible.

Also new this year: I got internet! For those of you who know me, this was a big change. This is my first blog post that I’m writing from my apartment – woah. However, despite easier access my habit of infrequent and sporadic blogging hasn’t changed. Since I do it so infrequently, and WordPress has updated how editing works, I’m trying out some of the new (to me) features on this blog. I’m not thrilled with some of the new formatting, but it’s probably operator error. To see the pictures individually in the galleries, you should be able to click on them. They also should have alternative text, if you need it. If you have any problems, please let me know. I hope you enjoy seeing what I’ve been up to these last few months.

Moon rising over Lake Superior, with lift bridge silhouette.
Moonrise over Lake Superior.

My friends from high school are great. Here are some eggs I decorated during our virtual Easter egg decorating hangout. I didn’t have dye or white eggs, so I got creative. It did make it harder to eat them afterwards!

While I was working from home this spring, I was able to get out on the Lakewalk a few mornings a week. This allowed me to catch some really nice sunrises and still be back at my computer in time for work.

Sunrise over Lake Superior
Sunrise over Lake Superior

While I look forward to being able to travel, now more than ever I’m thankful for the easy access that I have to wild spaces. While I’ve had my own shares of ups and downs during this difficult time, I find relief in nature. Though our local trails and parks have been busy with tourists, I’m lucky enough to know some quieter local places to get away (feel free to email me if you’d like some insider tips). It’s during these times I am reminded of my wealth, since I get to live in a place that many only get to visit.

Crayfish hiding in rocks under the water.
Crayfish in the Lester River

In May I was lucky to be able to join a few other adventurous women for a weekend backpacking trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. We met up at the trailhead, got our best socially distant start of the trip picture (unfortunately I don’t have that to share), and spent two nights enjoying the wilderness and the company (even though the black flies were thick)!

Even though they happen every year, I do love the flowers of spring and summer – both wild and cultivated!

One of many favorite sections of trail, within a half hour drive of my house. I always feel as though a dinosaur might spring out from the ferns.

Boardwalk through fern-filled forest.

It’s been a good year to see wildlife. I’m reminded that they don’t really care if we humans are having a pandemic.

It was very powerful to join up with the peaceful protest in Duluth after the murder of George Floyd. Black Lives Matter, racism is the other pandemic in the United States, and I have been spending time working on my own biases. Thank you for those of you who have helped me.

Peaceful protest at Duluth's city hall. People holding signs promoting social justice.

After living in my apartment for almost three years, I finally got a small table to eat and work from. This allowed me to move my sewing table and devote it to projects – like sewing masks, since it seems as though we’ll be wearing them for a while.

I was able to see the comet NEOWISE as it was visible in July. It was a good reminder that we are infinitely small in our vast universe! I don’t have a good camera or the patience to take good pictures, so I just enjoyed the comet itself in the present moment.

In August I was reminded of the wealth I have in where I live. A short backpacking trip up the shore provided a welcome break from technology and routine.

Sometimes, you are just in the right place at the right time. I took this picture of a tanker and a rainbow from the Super One grocery store parking lot. The spectacular and fleeting moment drew a few other folks, and we reveled in our good fortune – and found connection in the moment.

Tanker ship on Lake Superior with a rainbow in the background.

Two short canoe trips to the Boundary Waters didn’t disappoint. Again, I am in awe of the wealth that we have in our wild places! Sigurd Olson said it well, “Wilderness to the people of America is a spiritual necessity, an antidote to the high pressure of modern life, a means of regaining serenity and equilibrium.”

Back working in person this fall, I snapped the following picture over a lunch break. The light was eerie as it filtered through the smoke that had traveled thousands of miles from its origin. My heart goes out to those more closely impacted.

Hazy view of the sun impacted by smoke from wildfires.

Fall colors and dry trails made for some great trail running in September. While I opted out of running any organized races this year (of the few that did take place) I still found grounding in being able to go out and spend some hours on the trails each weekend. Since others were seeking that too, I found some quieter trailheads and took the backroads home to avoid the crowds and traffic. Again, I’m reminded how lucky I am to know some alternative spots to take in the colors.

On one very exciting weekend, I made it over the Deep Portage Learning Center, a place near and dear to my heart, and was able to spend a few hours enjoying the trails with a couple dear, close friends. We even got the very special treatment of seeing a beaver at the bog! It was good for the soul.

As we enter into the darker, colder months, it will be harder to get outside. For me, being active outside is crucial to maintaining my mental health, even in a good year. Outside has also been how I’ve done most of my socializing for the last six months, something else good for mental health. My plan going into winter: get a brighter headlamp and a reflective vest or jacket so I can ski by headlamp if we have snow snow or run if we don’t.

What have you been up to these last few months? What’s your plan to maintain (or better) your mental health this winter?

A wet, cold day in October

I’ll leave you with one more Sigurd Olson quote:

“Joys come from simple and natural things; mist over meadows, sunlight on leaves, the path of the moon over water. Even rain and wind and stormy clouds bring joy.”

Sending love and peace to you all!