Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

October reflections from the St. Croix River valley October 15, 2014

Driving toward Taylors Falls, Minnesota, from the east.

Driving toward Taylors Falls, Minnesota, from the east provides an especially scenic view of this river community.

TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO in October, my husband and I planned an overnight stay at a bed-and-breakfast in Taylors Falls. We anticipated gorgeous fall colors and rare time alone without the responsibilities of parenting three children.

But then my mother-in-law died unexpectedly a week before the booked get-away and we never rescheduled the trip.

Heading toward St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and Taylors Falls, Minnesota, along U.S. Highway 8.

Heading toward St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and Taylors Falls, Minnesota, along U.S. Highway 8.

This past week, we finally made it to the twin St. Croix River valley communities of Taylors Falls on the Minnesota side and St. Croix Falls in Wisconsin, staying at a chain hotel rather than a B & B. We found the glorious autumn colors we had hoped for and the freedom that comes with being empty nesters.

Shops in downtown St. Croix Falls.

Shops in downtown St. Croix Falls.

Hop in the van and go. Stop when and where we want. Drive along a winding river road. Hike without worry of kids trailing off the trail or plummeting over the edge of a rocky ledge. Eat late. Sleep in.

My husband on a dock at St. Croix Falls Lions Park along the St. Croix River.

My husband on a dock at St. Croix Falls Lions Park along the St. Croix River.

There’s something to be said for this season of life, this nearing age sixty that causes me to pause, to delight in the view, to reflect and appreciate and yearn for the past while simultaneously appreciating the days I live and those which lie before me.

"River Spirit," a bronze sculpture by local Julie Ann Stage, embodies the poetry and natural beauty of the St. Croix River Valley. The artwork was installed in 2007 and stands at a scenic overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls.

“River Spirit,” a bronze sculpture by local Julie Ann Stage, embodies the poetry and natural beauty of the St. Croix River Valley. The artwork was installed in 2007 and stands at a scenic overlook in downtown St. Croix Falls.

Perhaps I think too deeply, too poetically sometimes.

Reflections, like watercolor on water.

Reflections, like watercolor on water. A scene photographed at St. Croix Falls Lions Park.

But like the trees buffeting the banks of the St. Croix, I see my days reflected in the river of life.

Beauty along the St. Croix River.

Beauty along the St. Croix River as seen from Lions Park.

Blazing colors mingling with green.

Leaves upon rock, reflect the unchangeable and the changeable.

Leaves upon rock, reflect the unchangeable and the changeable.

Changed and unchanging.

Days of simply enjoying life.

Days of simply enjoying life.

Yesterday, today, tomorrow.

Life is like a river, sometimes calm, sometimes raging.

Life is like a river, sometimes calm, sometimes raging. A view of the St. Croix River shoreline from Lions Park.

Life.

FYI: Click here for more information about the Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls area.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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20 Responses to “October reflections from the St. Croix River valley”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Not possible to be “too poetic”!!!!!! One of our fave spots!!!!!!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    You did manage to find some beautiful fall foliage, didn’t you? Lovely pictures of the tree lined banks. Those are my favorites.

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    This is a wonderful and scenic area. We make a few trips here every year. The Fawn-doe-rosa (just across the river in WI on the left) is fun stop for all ages. http://www.fawndoerosa.com/

  4. Looks great. I’d want to go in that shop in St. Croix Falls. Love those river towns.

  5. Jackie Says:

    Audrey your photo’s (and words) are amazingly beautiful. Rick and I have been to this area camping with the kids, and yes your right about the kids getting too near the edge of the hiking trails…..Brice my wild child gave me several heart attacks while hiking. I miss those days too, but savor the quiet, unstressful time with my guy. I’m so glad you and Randy finally made it, you hit the changing of colors at a perfect time.

  6. Loving your captures 🙂 Nothing better than escaping, doing what you want and just R&Ring. Happy Hump Day!

  7. Lovely, contemplative photos that are as poetic as your words. I love the Taylors Falls area, the Interstate Park, the feel of those rocks beneath my feet when I hike. Glad you finally made it to the area. Glad you found something about the so-called empty nest to appreciate. (Does anyone else have trouble with the “empty nest” term? My husband and I are still here. It’s not empty!).

    • I am laughing at “my husband and I are still here.” The term does not bother me.

      The rock, oh, the rock. My initial thought was of picking rock from fields, a chore growing up on the farm, and thinking you could never pick all these rock along the St. Croix.

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    The scenery is just gorgeous. I’m so sorry to hear your MIL died so unexpectedly and she must have been very young. That must have been a terrible shock to all of you. We’ve planned weekends away and then had something come up that’s meant it’s had to be shelved and like you, we’ve never rescheduled xx


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