A lovely Tuesday for a tornado

One of our favorite pastimes in Minnesota is talking about the weather. This isn’t because we’re superficial or boring; rather, it’s because our weather is so darned interesting. Last Tuesday is a perfect example.

The day started gloriously, with bright sunshine and blue skies. I wanted to be outside — but since I was already lobster-pink from my adventure on Saturday, I decided instead to spend my rare weekday off at the Como Conservatory.

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I got distracted on the way to the beautiful Victorian greenhouse, though, by the “pollinator garden.”

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Just as advertised, it was alive with the buzzing of busy bees.

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But something else soon drew my eye. A hummingbird?!

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Nope. A hummingbird moth. I don’t know what purpose this mimicry serves, but the illusion is perfect.

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I also found some other bugs we might not usually hail as pollinators. Like this iridescent beetle …

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… and this cheeky little fellow I dubbed “Mister Mephistopheles.”

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Although Mister Meph looked sleek from a distance, upon closer inspection I saw he was covered with tiny hairs to better collect the pollen.

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By now it was hotter than Hades and I was redder than Mephistopheles himself, so I headed home. That’s when I got the updated weather forecast:

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If you don’t talk Minnesotan, this means “We’re all going to perish in an apocalypse of hail, wind, and maybe a few tornadoes.” And soon enough, I believed it as the sky turned an ominous shade of bluish-green.

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Then the wind started, and the rain.

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It wasn’t until the next morning, though, that I saw the extent of the damage. The sidewalks were littered with leaves and bits of bark, and trees blocked several streets.

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In one spot, sparks from downed power lines had even caused a small fire.

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My mind turned to the little creatures I’d photographed only 16 hours earlier. Had any of them survived? As if on cue, a neighbor’s garden caught my attention. I was relieved (and surprised) to note that even the most delicate flowers were unscathed.

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Then I spotted an eastern cottontail rabbit: She was a bit bedraggled, but none the worse for wear.

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And while this little fellow looked perplexed by his new split-level squirrel condo, he too seemed otherwise unfazed.

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By the end of my walk, the only creature I was worried about was my clueless neighbor.

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Although I admired his skill in lifting the fire tape above his car as he circumnavigated the fallen tree, I also couldn’t help cringing.

“Did you notice you just drove over a bunch of power lines?” I asked him. “Oh really?” he replied. “Oops …”

In the end, no tornadoes materialized in the Twin Cities — but there was widespread wind damage, and five days later the clean-up continues in some neighborhoods.

As I said: It’s never boring here!

103 comments

    • I actually did get a little lost in that thicket of flowers … and really sunburned, too. 🙂 Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to leave your kind comment.

    • Inaccurate forecasts, indeed. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard, since we’re out here in the middle of the plains and we can see the weather coming from hundreds of miles away! But on my less-grumpy days I kind of revel in the fact that, even with all our fancy doppler radars, some things about nature are still a mystery to us.

      • Love your photos being an amateur photographer myself. Love the return visit to Minnesota as I am a transplanted Minnesotan, just drove through last week as a matter of fact.

        Would love for the rest of the world to wake to what many have already discovered and are slowly increasing in number as the weather patterns get crazier. Do a search of the word “Chemtrails” and then start photographing the sky.

        I’ve been a sky watcher seems since birth, growing up in the country just outside Minneapolis down Hwy 55. I used to keep a daily journal of the weather during winters and springs. Something has changed in our skies and the federal government has admitted to such.

        The weather IS being controlled. Not something new. Weather weaponry has been around since the Viet Nam War. Only thing new it is being used on Americans now. Do a search of Prince and Chemtrails, see what comes up. One of his last interviews he was discussing this exact topic. He was awake and noticed.

        Peace to this planet. Namaste.

  1. What an incredible weather day for you! And, a beautiful day wandering through the conservatory. Fantastic pics. I’ve never heard of a hummingbird moth. So many amazing creatures to admire, big and small.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Tasha! It was rather eye-opening to realize how many things I’m missing because I’m usually rushing around. (I’m curious to find out Mr. Mephistopheles’ “real” name for starters!) Thank you for stopping by.

    • Keep scrolling to the bottom of the post for a look at the “after” pictures. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by!

  2. Great Photos – Weather, we have 3 season in one in the UK. The weather in Minnesota seems similar to ours , but a lot harsher. Nice post, I thought it was only us in the UK who suffer or experience everything in one day. It is summer – but it doesnt feel like summer, sometimes you want to get the winter coat out.

    Nice post.
    Enjoy the rest of sunday

    • I know exactly what you mean about the UK weather, Bella — during my visits there I’ve felt like every morning I had to bring supplies for everything from cold, fog, and rain to sunshine and wind! But you’re right to observe that here those swings can be a bit more extreme. Thanks for modern forecasting we don’t get *completely* surprised very often anymore, but as recently as the 1940s people were dying by the hundreds because of huge snowstorms that would come out of nowhere and leave them stranded without the proper clothing. Thank you so much for stopping by, and enjoy your Sunday too!

    • Aren’t those bugs beautiful, Jeff? They almost remind me of fine velvet, the way they shimmer as they move about …

  3. Lovely photos! The weather is also the height of any and every single conversation every single day here! We also get all four seasons in a day quite often! Ridic! I really enjoyed looking at all the photos! Xx

    • Thank you so much, Alicia! I sometimes have to consciously avoid rolling my eyes when my husband asks, “Do you have your umbrella, and your snow boots, and your gloves, and your raincoat?” But he’s right, of course, because anything could happen! Hope it’s all sunny skies in your corner of the world, though, for the sun-lover in you. 🙂 xx

  4. Seems like Minnesota is like a Disney-land for weather enthusiasts. You do not have to move far and get to experience all varieties. (“Mum, Dad, can we go and see the tornado, pleeeease?” “Be patient, we”re soon out of the sunshine zone anyway”)

    Refraining from wondering what the name of this wonderful water plant is (third picture, it looks like a colored snow flake) because then the next thing I want, is a pond.

    • “Mum, Dad, can we go and see the tornado, pleeeease?” HA HA! I can tell you that a Minnesota kid would *never* ask this — because you don’t have to “go see” tornadoes; they pay house calls. 🙂

      As for the name of that water plant … I refrained from lingering too long and looking too closely as well. “Water features” are beautiful, but I know from experience they’re a pain in the patootie to clean and maintain. So avert your eyes and think low-maintenance-gardening thoughts! 🙂

      • Incidentally, recently I was house/animal-sitting for a friend who has a pond. So now I can confirm that it is the much better option to have a friend with a pond, rather than a pond of your own.

        • You’re hilarious! You have me in stitches once again. Going forward, I’ll add “pond ownership” to my criteria for friendship. (Though, to be fair, I’ll grandfather in my current friends who don’t own ponds, ha ha.)

  5. Fab photos, we are just as obsessed with the weather here in the UK. Strange really as it doesn’t really do much but rain. Nice post, enjoyed reading it xxx

    • From my visits to the UK i do remember that obsession with the weather, Helen — and it was an obsession I soon shared, because you never knew what the day might bring! Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  6. One of my favorite things about heading back to Lake Michigan country is the summertime thunderstorm when it makes landfall off the big lake and stalls midcounty. A couple years ago I crouched at my childhood bedroom window in the middle of the night and marveled at the longest, brightest display of lightning that I can recall in recent memory. My parents’ backyard was like a thousand photographic negatives. I’ll never forget that.

    I really enjoyed this collection of images (superb macros!). The picture of the hummingbird moth fluttering through the fennel has me feeling a little wistful. No choice but to trim my patch (of fennel) over the past weekend because it had grown nearly seven feet tall. I keep it because I love how it looks- I’ve never actually harvested it. It always ends up growing to willowy, Frankensteinish proportions and makes backing out of the driveway a little hazardous.

    Thank you so much for the moleskin and book, H. I’m sorry I haven’t had the chance to thank you more personally, already.

    • You’re such a gifted writer, Jason! I love your description of the lightning in your parents’ Michigan back yard as “a thousand photographic negatives.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more perfect description of our Midwestern lightning …

      And your Frankenstein fennel — seven feet tall! My goodness, you must have some great soil and one helluva green thumb. Although I’ve given up on mine (because the stalks always seemed to snap anyway) I do also love how it looks: both prehistoric and delicate at the same time.

      And I’m so glad to hear your little treats reached you OK! You are most welcome, Jason. I hope you’ll find them both good companions — one to inspire your wonderful eye, and the other to hungrily gather and store your beautiful words.

      As always, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

  7. Nature is wonderful. Beautifully amazing, and some times scarily amazing. But none the less, amazing. Thank you for sharing this story, very well put together.

  8. Oh wow, I’m just pleased you made home unscathed. And those creatures, oh I love nature and I loved seeing it through your lens. Isn’t it amazing how they just get on with life despite the storms. P.S. Not sure if anyone asked, but what lens where you using on your macro-photography?

    • Thank you for your sweet sentiments, Rochelle! I just wish I had gotten those little bugs’ email addresses so I could have checked afterward to make sure they were ok. 😉 As for the “macro” lens, I think you’ll be as surprised as I was: It was just my plain old 24-240 equivalent Panasonic zoom! I took steps backward and forward until I found the “sweet spot” between telephoto magnification and focusing distance. It was a bit time-consuming, but in the end it beat carrying an extra lens — and it opened a whole new world to realize what my existing kit lens is capable of. Thank you so much for stopping by!

  9. First, thank goodness you are safe. I’m glad your neighbor is okay, too. Second, thanks for sharing the crisp images. I like when I can “touch” with my eyes. The cottontail bunny’s fur seems so soft and it’s eye big, bright and maybe sensing what’s to come. I think you’ve captured the wonder of nature and how the little things, like flowers, grab our hearts in the midst of devastation, restoring hope. Nicely done.

    • Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Eleanor! You’ve truly made my day with your kind words — and especially with your observation of how the little things can restore hope. Perhaps that’s why I’m drawn into the prairie or the woods when everything seems to be broken in our human world …

      • You are most welcome and it’s well deserved. …you find splendor in nature and it shows through your photography. Never lose it.

  10. Hey now, not only superficial or boring people talk about the weather a lot… sometimes you’re just English! but I’m sure the bugs survived just fine, nature is very resilient 🙂

  11. Loved this peace. Pictures were also amazing, I was vicariously enjoying myself through them! I’d love for you to check out my blog as well at sitoriaspeaks.com !

  12. My first every comment -I’m learning how to blog – I mean literally, I’m taking lessons! So its time for me to take a break from my studies and blog with the experts. I just wanted to say I so enjoyed following your cool pics down and down, and then waiting to see what you would say next. Its very entertaining.Thankyou for opening my eyes to wonderful examples of blogging:) p.s my setup looks awful for now but I will get there

    • Congratulations on your new blog! How wonderful that you’re taking lessons; i’m impressed by your dedication and motivation. And thank you for your very kind words. I’m honored.

  13. Weather sure changes fast where you live! That such a lovely day would end up in an ‘apocalypse of hail, wind, and tornadoes’ is not what I expected (well…the title might have given a clue though….) 🙂

    • You’re right about how quickly things can change here — it’s certainly never boring, even if not every day ends in an apocalypse of hail. 😉 Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

  14. Our large maple tree in our back yard was struck by lightning during that storm. No damage though..just a burn streak down the side of it and out into the grass. Your photography of the conservatory and the storm are stunning!

    • Jeepers! Talk about a storm hitting too close to home! I’m glad no one was hurt, and that there was no serious damage. Thank you so much for stopping by, and especially for taking the time to comment.

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