Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Connecting with nature at Carleton College August 19, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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TO WALK HERE, among wildflowers lining water’s edge, is to find peace. And these days I crave peace, a short escape from the challenges of life. Nature offers that quiet, that solitude, that ability to forget reality for awhile.



On a recent Saturday, Randy and I followed a trail into a nature area at Carleton College in Northfield. I thought how lovely to attend college here, to have this natural space available on the edge of campus. A place for students to retreat, to recharge, to reboot.





On this day, I retreated, focusing my attention (and camera) on vivid and pastel petals,



reflections on water,




the arc of bridges



and then, the unexpected—a memorial to Carleton alum Ann N. Nelson who died during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. A second Carleton alum, Joe McDonald, also died there.



The memorial stone placed between benches next to a labyrinth drew my thoughts away momentarily to that awful day in our nation’s history. And I considered the pain and the horror of it all and how, even in this peaceful place, one cannot fully-escape the difficult realities of life.




© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Connecting with nature at Carleton College”

  1. The realities of life are always with us but what a beautiful spot to be able to reflect and sense the calm of the moment. it is truly a beautiful oasis and I am sure that the college students absolutely love this place.

  2. pkpm519 Says:

    I grew up around Dundas and Northfield…and actually started my swimming lessons about age 5 in the Lyman Lakes there. Shortly afterward, the lessons were moved to Cord’s gravel pit pond near Waterford. But I have happy memories and photos of the area. I have a short video of the noisy ducks on the lake one fall, as they “discussed” heading south!

  3. It’s necessary for me to be among nature and marvel at the handiwork of our Creator. The breeze rustling through trees, the rhythm of running water, the melodic singing of various birds, the suns rays warming my skin, and the faint floral fragrance of wildflowers–all of it is necessary for my soul. It helps relax my mind and find a new perspective in any situation. While the memorial may have triggered the horror of 9/11, I think the gift of such a peaceful spot in the young woman’s honor is a testament of how nature can heal when we are most confused, sad, and heartbroken. The world needs more nature, quiet moments, and self reflection–along with kindness, love, mercy, and generosity.

  4. Beautiful captures 🙂 Nature is truly a respite from the hustle and bustle – a place to slow down, pause, reflect, breathe, etc. I am so grateful to work for an organization that encompasses its campuses amongst green spaces and some even have water features or piped in music. It is a nice break from desk jockeying and spending time with a computer screen. Thanks so much for sharing! Happy Day – Enjoy

  5. Gunny Says:

    Beautiful place to be. I can remember going to the lakes for a swim when I was young.

    While the dedication plate for the young woman is appropriately placed in a serene setting, it conjures up scenes that are forever vividly seared into my mind. In my case, all that serenity is washed away by a wave of mixed emotions and an increased sensitivity into the time, place, weather, sound, wind and movement that this place contains at the moment I finish reading that memorial.

    While it is a beautiful setting, certain things can evoke restrained emotions in all of us. I’d have to go back to the bridge and watch the ducks.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    The photo’s are lovely, the reflection photo is my favorite! I can see how this can be a place of peace.

  7. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    What a beautiful photo story and tribute. Thank you, Audrey.

  8. Kim Sisto Robinson Says:

    And omgosh, that plaque. Heartbreaking. x

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