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

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18 Responses to “A photo essay: Autumn at River Bend”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I agree. There are times when I purposefully do not take my camera along but I almost always have my phone and with a decent camera on that I still find myself slowing down to capture things that catch my eye. It is difficult to lose that desire to capture things in photographs for later, isn’t it? Fall certainly looks as if it was in full bloom in these photos so I am glad you had the chance to capture it.

  2. Beautiful… crunch… crunch… crunch….

  3. Thread crazy Says:

    What gorgeous pictures of the changing leaves…brings back many fond memories of taking hikes in the fall. While we do have some pretty colors, its not until much later in fall and not near as pretty. So I share your pictures with my Texas hubby who hasn’t been blessed to see these beautiful leaves.

  4. Lovely! We went north this weekend, to Carlos Avery Wildlife Refuge and oohed and ahhed the whole time. What a beautiful fall we’ve been having here in Minnesota.

  5. Don Singsaas Says:

    Wow I had forgotten about milkweed plants and the fun we had playing with them as kids, great picture!

    • You, too, with the milkweeds. One year my sister and I crafted Christmas ornaments from milkweeds and gave them to our Aunt Rachel. This past summer she returned that ornament I made some 50 years ago. I was impressed that she would treasure my gift all these years, even taking it on her move from Minneapolis to Arkansas.

  6. Jeffrey Derscheid Says:

    Yes- The fossil in the rock is the remains of a straight cephalopod after weathering – the animal used to be coned shape with tentacles and large compound eyes. Most in this area are found in Ordivician age limestone. (Approx 443-485 million years old)

  7. Jackie Says:

    I know exactly what you’re talking about Audrey, so many times Rick turns to take my hand as he starts over the rugged terrain only to find me dawdling with my camera way behind him. I guess our guys are used to it, they know we are happy in our element and wouldn’t want it any other way….right? The Oak leaf pictures are beautiful!!!

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    What a beautiful scenic walk. I love all your autumnal images. The berries are amazing – we don’t have trees that produce berries like that. And thanks so much for your lovely comment on my blog – I feel exactly the same about you – I’ve learnt so much about your corner of the world and love how your blog gives me a glimpse into a world I otherwise would know little about. I love how blogging allows us to have friendships with people we otherwise would never had met – it’s like having penpals only better as blogs have images and it’s so much more instant xx

    • I know you carry a connection to the Midwestern US because of your dad’s time living in Wisconsin. I truly hope that some day you can visit this area of the US. I agree, blogging connection are like the modern day version of pen pals, but even better.

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    I love your up close and personal photos from an autumn walk. I was particularly taken with the oak leaves. You certainly have a ‘good eye’ for the natural beauty around you.


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