Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An early April evening at River Bend April 13, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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One of several immense cottonwoods looms next to the parking lot.

DAYLIGHT WANED AS RANDY and I entered the woods at River Bend Nature Center by the parking lot near the entrance. We haven’t walked this area in a while and were surprised to find the woods littered with fallen trees and limbs. Not just a few, but lots. I expect the powerful winds during a September 2018 tornado in Faribault caused the damage.

From atop a hill, I looked toward the lowlands. We’d just walked the path to the left after exiting the woods.

As we hiked, the shrill trill of frogs in the nearby wetlands reverberated. I’m always amazed by this spring time opera/mating ritual.

The treeline that caught my photographic eye.

A ways into the woods, the dirt path bent right, with another forking to a prairie outlook. We continued on the chosen trail until I noticed a copse of lean trees I wanted to photograph. “I’m surprised we don’t see any deer,” I said, stepping across dried grass and branches to find an open space through which to aim my camera lens.

To the left in this photo, a deer leaves the protection of a treeline.

I snapped a few frames before Randy noticed a lone deer. The deer obviously saw us, too, as it emerged from behind the treeline and leaped through the tall prairie grasses.

There’s something about tall grass that speaks to me. Perhaps because of my Minnesota prairie roots.

We continued down the trail, now on the other side of the horseshoe shaped route that connects with the main path into this section of River Bend. Once on the arterial trail, we walked a short distance before turning right toward the swampland. The overwhelming chorus of thousands of frogs increased in volume to the point of almost hurting my ears.

I love the simplicity of this scene.

Underneath, the ground felt spongy. Occasionally I paused to photograph something. A lone bird atop a bare tree. Tall grasses silhouetted against an evening sky shifting toward darkness. I wished we’d arrived a half hour earlier for optimal lighting during a photographer’s golden hour.

We turned and partially retraced our route once we reached this point leading to the prairie.

But sometimes it’s good for me to simply walk and take in my surroundings. To appreciate the natural world with my God-given eyes rather than through the eye of a camera. To be in the moment. To hear the soprano of frogs singing spring songs in southern Minnesota in early April.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


12 Responses to “An early April evening at River Bend”

  1. Ruth Says:

    You and your husband find the loveliest ways to share time spent in nature.

  2. Walked the neighborhood yesterday morning and quite the characters of wildlife. A hawk was trying to eat breakfast and a Mockingjay kept attacking the hawk while trying to eat – quite the racket of bird screeching (not singing). Then we had mama raccoon and her two babies come into the backyard for some citrus (loquats) that were on the ground. Stay away from the fermented ones mama. Those babies were fluff nuggets. Amazed out in broad daylight though. I agree that sometimes you just have to put the camera down and just immerse yourself into your natural surroundings. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Susan Ready Says:

    I particularly liked the reminder in the line-to be in the moment. Your walk abounded in lots of sensory details with the appreciation of all nature has to offer. Happy spring day and note northern Minnesota hopes to find spring soon with a wintry punch causing another delay.

  4. valeriebollinger Says:

    Yes, remembering to be in the moment is something I try to remember too, since I, too, like to take photos! But i only use the camera on my phone and it is usually with me because it also keeps track of my steps/mileage.

  5. Love the moody lighting of these pictures. It may not have been the golden hour, but it was still interesting and beautiful in the gathering dusk. You’re right, though, about needing to see the landscape with your eyes instead of the camera lens sometimes. I need to do the same. But taking pictures is so fun!

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