Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A sweet moment at Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center October 24, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IT WAS LIKE A SCENE from yesteryear. Two bikes dumped along the side of a trail, just before a bridge. Two blue-jean, t-shirt clad boys on the bridge, so focused they were unaware of my presence.




Until I reached them, paused and asked what drew their attention at the River Bend Nature Center Turtle Pond. Not a turtle could be seen in the stagnant, murky water.








But the boys had stopped to dip their hands into the pond, pulling tiny black snails from the water to place next to a woolly caterpillar clinging to a cottonwood leaf. They’d rescued the caterpillar earlier from a roadway.




This is the stuff of Mayberry. This is the stuff of my childhood—those carefree days when kids roamed and ranged and delighted in the intricacies of nature. This scene, these boys, brought me joy. Rare are the times I see kids playing, exploring, discovering without the supervisory presence of adults in an organized activity.

But on this autumn afternoon, this pair—certainly old enough to be off on their own—delighted in simply being outdoors. As we watched a snail peer out of its shell, I thought, life really doesn’t get any better than this, this slowing down to appreciate nature at a snail’s pace.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


27 Responses to “A sweet moment at Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Perfect. Absolutely perfect way to start the week –slowly and bit nostalgically. 🙂

  2. Carefree days of youth are yon,
    love them now
    they’ll soon be gone
    waiting are the days of care
    of work and mortgage
    And precious little time to spare!

  3. Nothing better than exploring – I still do this as an adult and let my big kid out – love your photos – made my day 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Mike S. Says:

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful moment!

  5. Aaron Says:

    I agree, I love when I see my boys acting like that too, I feel like ‘boyhood’ memories should be cherrished. I take my kids fishing a lot (I hate fishing) so they can create there own memories.

    • What a wonderful dad you are to take your boys fishing even when you don’t enjoy the sport.

      • Aaron Says:

        I just don’t like the torturing of worms and fish (we just throw them back in b/c I don’t know how to prepare them to cook) they are both hyper kids, both have adhd, and my oldest is on the autism spectrum, so I love taking them fishing because they remain calm and are happy at the same time, it’s very peacful, they are so proud when they catch something too. It’s nice.

      • I expect water offers a calming affect.

  6. Dan Traun Says:

    Our society needs more of this.

  7. Jackie Says:

    ahhh, a delightful post! Make me feel less bad that today has been a sit around and do nothing kind of day. We all need to be carefree from time to time 🙂

  8. Lorry Katow Says:

    Wow, what a great moment. That was refreshing and it is making me feel light and smileile

  9. pkpm519 Says:

    This is truly a wonderful moment…a reminder of the past…and still a possibility for today. Unfortunately, for me it is also a reminder of two other boys out for a ride on their bicycles many years ago, and one has only returned home now. The terrifying memories slip right in with the wonderful ones. Thank you for reminding us of so many of the wonderful ones! Emily McNeill (formerly of the Dundas-Northfield-Faribault area!)

  10. Sue Ready Says:

    As a former science teacher how refreshing are these boys who show such an appreciation for nature and discovery. And not an ipad or phone in sight!

    • “Refreshing” fits.

      I learned something new about you today. I always thought you were an elementary school teacher…but science, huh. I find that interesting since those who typically are strong in the sciences are not necessarily creative types.

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