Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Into the woods at Falls Creek Park March 31, 2021

Moss feathers across the end of a hewn tree.

AS SPRING EASES INTO MINNESOTA, I embrace the transition of seasons in indecisive weather and in the subtle greening of the landscape.

A greening vine in the otherwise muted landscape.

I don’t trust that winter has really, truly, exited. Yet, these early glimpses of spring assure me that the bulk of winter lies behind us.

Randy walks in the woods.

I saw that in the woods of Falls Creek County Park on Sunday afternoon. Randy and I hiked in this 61-acre park a mile east of Faribault off Minnesota State Highway 60. It’s a relatively unused park, one of the reasons we are drawn here.

Water rushes under the bridge and over rocks.

Here a dirt hiking path curves along the waterway winding through woods. Access to that path comes via an arched pedestrian bridge. There water rushes over rocks and we always pause to appreciate the soothing sound of rushing water.

The creek meanders, wide in some areas, narrow in others.
In places, the creek runs clear.
A fork in the creek.

And we also always walk to the side of the creek, to examine the water at the bend, before it flows under the bridge. Recent rain left that water muddied. Later we would find the creek flowing clear.

Loving the light, color and texture on this tree trunk moss.

Entering the woods, I determined to photograph signs of spring in the muted landscape. That requires focus. Examples of spring are elusive and seen mostly in vivid green moss carpeting fallen tree trunks.

A fallen tree provides a canvas for art.

But I can photograph only so much moss. Thus I expanded my perspective. Nature writes details upon the landscape. Even in a scene of mostly muted browns.

Hillsides of trees rising

and fungi laddering

and dried leaves curling.

Nature’s “antlers.”

And the branches of a tree twisting like antlers.

Nature’s sculpture.

And felled trees that appear like natural sculptures.

The makeshift bridge.

All of these nuances I noticed as we walked, as I stopped to take in my surroundings, as Randy steadied me while I crossed a makeshift branch bridge across a spillway.

Randy crosses the bridge out of the woods.

There is much to see in this seasonal transition, if only we pause to appreciate. To look. And really see. To hear. And really listen. It’s there. The poetry of wind and water and woods and words.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “Into the woods at Falls Creek Park”

  1. Ruth Says:

    You capture the poetry of the transition into Minnesota Spring with your photo gallery, Audrey.

  2. valeriebollinger Says:

    We were at that park for a wedding once, several years ago. It would be fun to go back. Thanks for the spring poetry.

  3. Laura Hansen Says:

    Enjoyed today’s post, your keen eye and artful photos. I should be doing more of this…walking, seeing.

  4. Laura Hansen Says:

    For (or Because of) Audrey Kletscher Helbling

    Do not wait for the rose
    to bloom. Watch the fern
    unfurl. Do not rush summer.
    Spring is a finer thing.
    Leaves emerge from trees
    like seeping sap, sap that
    congeals into buds, buds that
    warm and open like a
    newborn’s tiny fist, stretching,
    flexing, grasping at the welcome
    surprise of life. Celebrate spring,
    not just as the doorway to summer,
    but as the sometimes slow,
    sometimes sudden return of green,
    of growth. Greet it with your eyes,
    with curiosity. The bulbs are rising
    now, shifting underfoot.

    Laura L. Hansen
    March 31, 2021

  5. “Nature writes details upon the landscape.” It sure does. I love what your eye followed in this post! I love taking photos of small things in the woods, too.

    • Photography has truly expanded my world and appreciation for details. I find the process of photographing to be invigorating, rewarding, uplifting and joyful. I feel giddy when I notice details like the laddering fungi or sunlight upon moss.

  6. Susan Ready Says:

    Your comments on seasonal transitions are nothing short of poetic. You pause and give us all a reminder to focus, see, hear and listen and be filled with gratitude for such wonderous things all around. Thanks!.

  7. marc reigel Says:

    I also subscribe to Garrison’s A Writer’s Almanac and Carl Jenck’s weekly poetry blog, carlmjenkspoetrycorner.com. In today’s blog, April 7, 2021, his entry is about the poetry of Alison Luterman, and I think you and she have very similar viewpoints about thing poetic & photographic. I think you’d especially like her poem, “What we did in the resistance” [to Trump’s Election in 2016] I’ll copy and paste the opening lines, since the poem will be too long for a “comment.” If you’d like to read the whole thing, it’s available at the website above. Thank you, Audrey, for your notes from the Heartland. They always ring true to me, as I was raised in the big-small town of Owatonna.

    In the beginning, we wept.
    Well, some of us wept. . . .
    We embraced on the street when we saw each other.
    We sat in cafés drinking coffee, digesting our grief.

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