Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

My nature escape in Faribault April 17, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Geese take flight from one of several ponds at Faribault Energy Park in this edited photo.


LAST SATURDAY, WHEN I NEEDED an escape into nature, Randy and I drove to the northwest side of Faribault and a favorite outdoors destination, the Faribault Energy Park.


I especially enjoy walking at Faribault Energy Park near sunset. The buidling in the distance is across Interstate 35 from the park.


I anticipated our walk there along dirt trails that wind past ponds. Even with Interstate 35 in sight and traffic droning in the background, I still enjoy this spot.


Cattail remnants edge a pond.


The openness of the landscape, the tall grasses and wildflowers (when in season) and the mix of wetlands remind me of the prairie.


I always hear birds here, even above the noise of I-35 traffic.


An on-site birdhouse.


A creek runs through the property with plenty of places for birds.


I delight, too, in the birdsong and the glimpses of red wing blackbirds, waterfowl and other birds. I don’t like, though, the dogs sometimes unleashed here by irresponsible dog owners. This isn’t a dog park. On one occasion, a large dog jumped on me, slicking me in mud. This is not OK and it angers me when people have no respect for others.


I notice details, like these dried, curled leaves that survived our harsh Minnesota winter intact.


Dried milkweed pods, too, have always seemed artfully beautiful to me.


Like a fossil, a leaf in the muddy trail.


But on this Saturday, there would be no walk through the Energy Park, no dogs to dodge. The gate into the park, typically open from sunrise to sunset daily, was closed and locked. I didn’t understand, until I observed police vehicles and a group of law enforcement officers gathered nearby. Later I would learn of a shooting in a local hotel parking lot and the hunt for a suspect in the northern industrial park where the Energy Park is located.


The graceful arc of sumac drew my attention (photo edited).


My plans to escape into this natural setting vanished and so we went to Plan B, a walk along the trail in North Alexander Park, a favorite spot bordering the Cannon River. Seems others had much the same idea. The park and trail were busy.


The beautiful sunset filters through the cloud bank.


I still prefer the mostly undiscovered Energy Park. I hope the gate will be unlocked this weekend, when the weather forecast calls for sunshine and 60 glorious degrees.


Berries add a splash of color to the mostly drab mid-March landscape.


Note: I took the above photos in mid-March at Faribault Energy Park, which is owned by the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “My nature escape in Faribault”

  1. Just what you needed and it was lovely to see your photos. Always uplifting to see beautiful nature photos.

  2. Littlesundog Says:

    Nice photos, Audrey. Some of my favorite photos are in the winter months – many times the stark landscape allows us to see what we might have otherwise missed. I never forget how fortunate we are to have the orchard and leased property beyond to hike and watch spring unfold. Lately Forrest and I have managed outings to forage for morel mushrooms, and to search for antler sheds. Being out in nature has always been a soothing balm for me. I am glad you have a place nearby to enjoy walking.

  3. Becky Adams Says:

    The photos in this blogpost are breathtaking, Audrey. You are a fine photographer!

  4. There is just something about being one with nature during this time. I am not sure if it is due to being cooped up, needing a change of pace, destressing, etc. I know I have been taking more walks. I have not really had the energy to do a 30-minute to 60-minute virtual exercise class due to the amount of work hours I have been putting in each day. Do not get me wrong I am grateful to be working, however; I have to remind myself to find the balance too. Making the decision to work a few days remotely has been a nice change of pace. Be Safe and Take Care. I hope your park is back open too. Have a Great Weekend 🙂

  5. Mirror Neurons Says:

    Did you purposely use the word “escape” in the title of this post since you did not get to enter the park because the police were searching for an escaped crime suspect, or did your subconscious just slip that word in there?

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    These kind of nature walks can really revive the soul. We may do just that this afternoon, but for sure this weekend! Photos are beautiful as always!

  7. Ah, still looks very wintery there. Spring had sprung despite everything going on here in NYC.

    • You’re right. It’s still quite wintry here with patches of snow in shaded areas. We had about six inches of snow on Easter. But tomorrow, with temps predicted to be around 60, that snow should melt.

      How are you and yours? I think of you often, Keith, and cannot imagine living in NYC right now. Be safe. Be well.

  8. valeriebollinger Says:

    We have yet to explore that park. Maybe a different walk for our daily outing sometime soon.
    Great photos!

  9. Almost Iowa Says:

    Gov. Walz announced today that parks would be open for nature walks and exercise. That’s wonderful. Hopefully more open spaces will be reopened.

    • As far as I know, Greg, parks were already open. The ones in Faribault never closed, except for last Saturday at the Energy Park. And I believe that was due to the manhunt. I’ve been to the Energy Park since the Stay at Home order was put in place. Is the “park” in Almost Iowa open?

  10. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    The photos are just stunning. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Ruth Says:

    What a beautiful post. The photos evoke so much feeling. I’m glad you got a nature escape.

  12. That creek in the Energy Park looks like it is inviting me to kayak!🤔

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