Due to excessive rain, the grass is so neon green in places, you have to shade your eyes. The strawberries are ripe for picking, and everyone's garden is overflowing with flowers.
The skies are blue and the loons are laughing. It's all so Minnesotany I can hardly bear it.
As a child, I was the frog-catching queen. A day in July was practically wasted if I didn't haul in 6 or 7 frogs, a turtle or two, a garter snake, and a handful of salamanders. My sister and I would free them all at nightfall and set in catching fireflies when the sun set.
I could (and can!) bait a hook and remove my catch without feeling squeamish. It comes from growing up in the Midwest, I think.
I'm embarrassed that I saw a brown, sticky little tree frog the other day and I jumped back in surprise, and then had to steel myself to grab it so I could show the boys. I try really hard not to be afraid of bugs and animals in front of my kids. If we see a spider, I man up and catch it without squealing- so they will know to do the same. I held the frog for them, and was a bit disappointed that they didn't want to hold it themselves- but we have a few days left for them to get accustomed to the idea.
I saw a skinny garter snake slide through the grass, and could have easily snatched him up if my arms weren't full of August. I'll get one for the boys soon, though. We stopped on a back road and all got out of the car to help a turtle to the safety of a nearby lake as it foolishly crossed the street. I loved watching Grey and Micah's eyes grow wide as they watched him claw the air and stretch out his neck,
then huddle into his shell for safety.
I woke up at 4:30 in the morning to nurse August, and could hear the loons, birds, and insects through the windows. I ran down through the grass, which was practically a giant, shallow puddle from the dew- and took some pictures of the sun rising over the lake.
I paid for my morning excursion with excruciating exhaustion later, but I think it was worth it.
About a week before we got to Minnesota, one of my favorite instagrammers went to Minnesota and took her children to visit the Ingalls homestead in Pepin, WI. The pictures were dreamy and perfect.
When I realized that it was only about a two hour drive from my hometown, I was so surprised! Why had I never been?! I was ready to load up the car and head out for the day. I thought about it and planned for it for days before arriving in Minnesota.
And then I got here, and realized why I had never been to the Ingalls' homestead. I don't need to go.
I practically grew up on the Ingalls' homestead.
Little houses in big woods, on the edges of lakes, rivers, and prairies- they're my forte. Been there. Done that.
If I'm only here for ten days, I'm certainly not wasting time driving to see a recreation of the Ingalls' cabin. I have my own lake house to visit, deep in the trees of a different wood.
I love traditions and have an idea of the perfect idyllic way for things to unfold. Whenever we do anything, I try to force and squeeze every bit of magic out of things that I can.
I want to visit reindeer while it's snowing at Christmas time. I want to jump in leaf piles in homemade sweaters in the fall. I orchestrate happenstance activities for my kids. I can't help it.
But here, it's been unnecessary.
I leave the lakeside for a minute and return to find Grandpa baiting the boys' hooks for them so they can fish off the end of the dock. (I guess I can check "fishing with grandpa" off my Minnesota docket.)
I turn around and see Grey perched in the top of a tree with his Uncle John, or rolling down a soft, sweet-smelling hill covered in grass and clover flowers.
I don't need to poke and prod them, "Hey, look at the clouds. Are they shaped like anything?"
Instead, I hear Micah chirp from the backseat, "Look at that car-cloud, Mom! That cloud looks like a fast car!"
And it's perfect.
I love this place, out here on the edge of the prairie, on the banks of Sylvan lake. It's everything I've been dreaming it would be.