Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A photo essay: Autumn at River Bend October 20, 2014

A trail through the woods at River Bend Nature Center, Faribault.

A trail through the woods at River Bend Nature Center, Faribault.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE, I’ve determined, to fast walk my way through a park or nature center, camera slung around neck or over shoulder. Impossible.

A slower pace allows one to notice the individual trees in the woods.

A slower pace allows one to notice the individual trees in the woods.

I cannot hurry, even with the goal to raise heart rate and burn calories. My desire and need to notice details, to take in and often photograph my surroundings, overrides.

Rudi, one friendly collie who cooperated for one photo.

Rudi, one friendly collie who cooperated for one photo.

On a recent Sunday afternoon walk at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, I tried, oh, I tried, to step it up. But then Rudi appeared and I just had to pet and photograph this friendly collie. The thing is, I’m not a big dog lover. Typically, I’ll skirt a canine. But not this one who reminded me of Lassie.

A group of goats are grazing on Buckthorn at River Bend.

A group of goats graze on Buckthorn at River Bend.

Rudi proved to be distraction number two after I observed penned goats attacking invasive Buckthorn (more on that in a future post).

Oak leaves

Oak leaves

More oak leaves

More oak leaves

And still more

And still more oak leaves

My husband and I fast-paced for awhile before my eyes focused on patches of oak leaves in burnished shades of orange and red. I veered slightly off the tarred path for close-up images.

So many folks were walking the trails on a gorgeous autumn afternoon in southeastern Minnesota.

So many folks were walking the trails on a gorgeous autumn afternoon in southeastern Minnesota.

My husband claims this is a fossil in rock.

My husband claims this is a fossil in rock.

Rustic signs mark River Bend trails.

Rustic signs mark River Bend trails.

A burst of brilliant red berries caught my eyes.

A burst of brilliant red berries caught my eyes.

Even dried swamp grass possesses a certain beauty.

Even dried swamp grass possesses a certain beauty.

Even a dried milkweed pod does not go unnoticed.

A dried milkweed pod does not go unnoticed.

A single leaf is worthy of notice for its mottled beauty.

A single leaf is worthy of notice for its mottled beauty.

And so the distractions continued—fossil embedded in rock, leaves, tree trunks, contrast of colors and light, a quick chat with another couple, milkweed and signs and berries and dried swamp grasses.

A treeline showcases the changing colors of autumn.

A treeline showcases the changing colors of autumn at River Bend.

Everywhere, nature drew me to a halt.

Fallen trees and branches litter the woods.

Fallen trees and branches appear as nature’s art in my photographic mind.

And that’s alright. Sometimes life calls for a slow pace. An eye that sees a single leaf in the woods. An ear that hears the crunch of leaves underfoot. A nose that smells the earthy scent of autumn. A hand that feels the rugged bark of a fallen tree.

(These images were shot on October 12. One week later, River Bend’s woods had changed considerably with most trees bare of leaves. My husband reminded me that autumn can transition quickly in Minnesota.)

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling