Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Milkweed memories August 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:42 AM
Milkweed, along the prairie path at River Bend Nature Center, Faribault

Milkweed, along the prairie path at River Bend Nature Center, Faribault

No matter where my family goes these days, I seem always to be lagging behind. Like the little child, dawdling, poking along, walking at a snail’s pace.

But that’s OK.

I notice what the others don’t see.

Like milkweeds, for example. If I had simply been out for the sole purpose of an evening walk at the River Bend Nature Center in Faribault recently, I may not have spotted these plants that so captivated my interest as a child, and still do.

So what if my husband had already disappeared around a bend in the path. I would catch up. I had Asclepias to study.

I thrilled in the veins running through the milkweed leaves, in the clusters of purple blossoms, in the pale evening sky presenting the perfect backdrop for a photo.

Milkweeds. Memories for me of childhood days harvesting seed pods from fields. Fingers stroking downy fluff, soft as a kitten’s fur.

And then, one Christmas, I cut an elfish child in a glittery red cape from the front of a greeting card, taped a toothpick to the back and then poked the elfin into a dried milkweed pod, upon the drift of snow I imagined there. This, the perfect Christmas gift.

So these were my thoughts as I paused along River Bend Nature Center’s prairie path to appreciate the milkweed, so essential to the life of monarch butterflies.

And the plant of memories for me.

Milkweed pods, along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway near Morton, autumn 2006

Milkweed pods, along the Minnesota River Valley National Scenic Byway near Morton, autumn 2006

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