Sketchbook: Late summer around the water

Nanci Olesen of Minneapolis captured moments in the metro that speak to the everyday in a Minnesota summer: time at, on, and near water. "I wanted to draw what I see each day." 


Chain of Lakes: My friends from France and I paddled July 24 what we call “Emerald Lagoon,” the waterway between Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. So many hues of green. The hush. Lapping water. We wended our way slowly, singing little songs. I was in the stern. Aurélie was “duffing” in front of me. She said later that she was terrified when we began. She had never been in a canoe before. Pierre, in the bow, loved learning how to paddle.
Minnehaha Falls: I’d seen a man sitting at the base of the falls on occasion, doing a handstand about every five minutes or so. On Aug. 7, I saw him again and asked him who he was and why he did it. He said his name was Dan Wirth, and he liked the falls — and loved to do handstands. He’d moved back to Minneapolis and grew up nearby. He was happy to have me take a photo of him and to draw a quick sketch. I like the way his legs match with the falls. We talked about how the electrolytes from the moving water are calming and invigorating for our souls!
Como Conservatory: Frog Pond is at the base of Como Conservatory in St. Paul. Obon, the Japanese festival commemorating ancestors, is celebrated here each year. I joined hundreds of people on the hillside Aug. 18 to watch the candlelit paper lanterns float. A family in front of me quietly chatted. The night was still and calm.
Powderhorn Park: I walked midmorning Aug. 13 around the little lake. A young man was leaning on the rail of the fishing dock, looking out at the pagoda across the lake and the weeping willow trees on the island. The water was still, reflecting the perfect blue sky and vivid trees. “Did it flood here?” the man asked me. “Not really, but the water is so high this year,” I said. The air was sweet. This inner city park is always a wonder to behold.
Cedar Lake: This woman was all set up for an afternoon at Cedar. We chatted Aug. 17 as she spread out her blanket behind me and started to read. "I gotta get right in it," she said, and set her lawn chair on the shore. She read there for about an hour. People came and went from the water. Laughter, kids playing "Marco Polo," an occasional whistle from the lifeguard. Summer afternoon at the lake.
Cedar Lake: Two women were standing waist deep in the water July 19. I couldn’t hear their conversation, but they were laughing. Farther out, a paddle boarder was leaning into his paddle. The sun glistened. It was a perfect afternoon.