Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road: A favorite nature break in Zimmerman September 28, 2020

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2019.


THE SHERBURNE COUNTY PARK has become, for us, a stopping point on the drive north to an extended family member’s guest lake cabin south of Crosslake.


Birds take flight from the prairie area of Grams Park last September. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2019.


Photographed in Grams Park during an early September 2019 visit. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


The park features a mix of woods, prairie and swampland. I took this photo about 10 days ago.


Randy and I typically pack a picnic lunch for a noonish stop at Grams Regional Park in Zimmerman. It’s a lovely spot not far off U.S. Highway 169. Here we eat our sandwiches, fruit and other picnic food before stretching our legs along trails that trace through this 100-acre park.





Typically, we follow the paths into the woods and then along curving boardwalks across wetlands or bogs, or whatever the proper terminology for the swampy areas lush with cattails.


Wildflowers photographed last September at Grams Park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2019.


At the prairie on the edge of the woods, this native pocket prairie has been planted.


Wildflowers along a wooded trail.


It’s a welcome break from the highway, this temporary immersion in nature—among the trees and wildflowers and peace in a place we’ve grown to appreciate.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo September 2019.


Ten days ago, the leaves at Grams Park were morphing into beautiful autumn hues.


A cluster of oak leaves by our picnic table.


And, during this season, the woods are particularly beautiful as leaves morph into the golden, brown and sometimes fiery hues of autumn. I may not love that autumn signals the transition toward winter. But I delight in the way she moves there.


I love this aspect of Grams Park, a nature discovery play space for kids.


Kids can play with these wooden discs…


…and learn about the rusty patched bumblebee.


If one positive change comes from COVID-19, I think it’s that we all hold a deeper appreciation of the outdoors, of the spaces which give us a respite from reality. And Grams Regional Park is such a place, more than a stop for lunch en route to the lake cabin.


Berries photographed in early September of last year. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2019.


TELL ME: Do you have a favorite park that you’ve grown even more fond of during the global pandemic?


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “On the road: A favorite nature break in Zimmerman”

  1. Kevin Kreger Says:

    I went to high school with the son of the people owned the land that became this park – he probably grew up there. A good friend, though I never was at his place, so I can’t be sure, but it’s neat to see connections.

  2. I agree that we all experience a heightened sense of love of the outdoors now. It is easy to love when the weather is good but once your snow flies it will be a bit more challenging to be out in the elements enjoying it but I am sure you will.

    • I think this will be an especially difficult winter hunkered down. I’m not a fan of winter, mostly because of the snow and ice and associated risks of falling. You know me and broken bones, although neither break happened in winter. I feel the urge now to spend as much time outdoors as possible.

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I sometimes wonder why I chose this time of year to go through with my foot surgery. The closest I get to any “colors” is looking through the car window from a distance. Typically I would be out and about with my camera capturing all the beauty. This year I think is exceptionally pretty! Thanks for sharing your nature shots with us!

  4. Susan Ready Says:

    Your park visit looks very inviting and good idea to do as much as you can as winter is creeping closer. Love your outdoor nature shots. I walk twice and day and with the autumn scenes unfolding in a kaleidoscope of colors the views have been stunning.

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