A few weekends ago I spent some time with friends near Hinckley, Minnesota. I don’t get "up north", as we say here in Minnesota, very often – I was born and raised along the southern edge of Minnesota – so it was a great opportunity to get out and see a different area of the state. Hinckley is about halfway between the Twin Cities and Duluth, so technically I wasn’t really all that far north, but it was fun to drive down some new roads and to notice the subtle changes and differences in the landscape. The stands of birch trees, the lack of corn fields, and the abundance of deer stands are just a few examples. The ratio of deer stands to permanent residences was weighted heavily in favor of the deer stands, at least on the gravel roads I was driving on, but I somehow managed to not take photographs of any of them. I find myself feeling weirdly disappointed about this. They have been so heavily inserted into the landscape that it feels like they should be part of the story too.
One thing that is definitely a part of this story is snow. We were already well into the throes of winter by this point with a thick coat of snow on the ground and heavy, gray, dreary skies. Despite the snow and the grayness, I headed out for a few hours to wander through some nearby small towns, including Sandstone and Askov and some random gravel roads near the St. Croix River. After this excursion, I went back to the house and immediately sat down and painted a bouquet of flowers, and looking through these photographs I can see why. I have more photographs from this drive, but I'll save them for later because this is enough gray and snow for one day.