THE SHIFT IN SEASONS seems subtle. But it’s there. In the lengthening of days. In brilliant sunshine that cuts through snowbanks, streams of water flowing and puddling. Iced rivers, too, are beginning to thaw.
On a recent stop at Two Rivers Park followed by a hike along the Straight River Trail in Faribault, I witnessed the evolving transition from winter toward spring.
At the convergence of the Straight and Cannon Rivers, an angler fishes in the open water. His orange stocking cap covered by his hooded sweatshirt layered beneath black coveralls jolt color into an otherwise muted landscape. Randy and I watch as he reels in a large fish, then unhooks and plops it onto the snow. A northern, Randy guesses. We watch for awhile, content to see the river flow, sun glinting upon the surface.
We make our way back to the parking lot, after I pause to photograph the mostly open river sweeping between snowy woods. There’s sometime serene about such a scene. Peaceful, even as traffic drones by on nearby Second Avenue.
On the trail, we cross bridges constructed of uneven angled boards that always trip me. I pause to peer into the river.
Birdsong, a sure auditory sign of spring’s approach, resounds as I lean over the bridge railing to see the open water below. Both hint of winter’s retreat.
Far below I observe animal tracks crossing the snow in a tic-tac-toe pattern leading to water’s icy edge.
Curving along the path near the former Faribault Foods canning company, stationary boxcars sidle against the building.
Graffiti colors the boxcar canvases.
We walk for awhile, then retrace our steps. Randy warns of an approaching cyclist and we step to the right of the trail in single file. “Hi, Randy,” the guy on the fat tire bike shouts as he zooms past. We look at each other. His identity remains a mystery.
Back on the bridges, I pause again to view the Cannon River snaking across the landscape like a pencil path following a maze. More photographs.
Before heading home, we divert briefly toward North Alexander Park, taking the tunnel under the Second Avenue bridge where, on the other side, the scene opens wide to the frozen, snow-layered river. In warm weather, anglers fish here, below the dam in open water.
Now the place is mostly vacant, just like the riverside picnic shelter.
By now we are cold, ready to conclude our afternoon jaunt. As I stride downhill toward the tunnel, I notice shadows of fence slats spaced upon the concrete. Art to my eyes. I stop, photograph the fence and fence shadows as they arc. Even in this moment, I see signs of spring along the river, beneath the blue sky.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling