MISSION PARK IN MISSION TOWNSHIP, “a quiet place to be” north of Merrifield in the Brainerd lakes region, rates as a favorite hiking spot when I’m at the lake. The extended family cabin is conveniently located about two miles away.
I enjoy walking here along the 3/4-mile paved trail that winds primarily through the woods. Grassy paths are another option, but I typically keep to the hard surface, with one exception. That deviation is the grassy route leading to an open field Pollinator Habitat.
Last trip to the cabin in early July, Randy and I discovered the field of milkweeds and other pollinator-attracting plants pulsing with dragonflies. I’ve always delighted in dragonflies—how they flit, their translucent wings beautiful to behold.
But dragonflies also pause, giving photographers like me ample opportunity to photograph them up close. To see and capture details of webbed wings, of hairy legs, of bulging eyes…proves rewarding, amazing, wondrous. This insect is so intricate.
I noticed, too, a chunky Monarch caterpillar descending a milkweed stalk. Milkweed is a host plant of the caterpillar which will eventually form a chrysalis and later emerge as a Monarch butterfly, now considered an endangered species.
Days later, I led the way back to the Pollinator Habitat to show my granddaughter, her little brother and parents the dragonfly haven. The insects were not as abundant and the crew was less than impressed, especially when Randy discovered a wood tick on his leg. Not a deer tick, but the common wood tick which I am quite familiar with as is Randy. We both grew up on farms and wood ticks were a natural part of our outdoor summer adventures.
The six of us quickly exited the pollinator patch right after Randy’s revelation, which he should have kept to himself.
I had hoped to walk along the paved trail to show everyone the massive orange mushroom I spotted previously. But, instead, we headed back to the park’s main recreational area.
Mission Park offers plenty of play space for those who prefer to stay off grassy trails into the woods. Like new playground equipment.
Other recreational options abound with several pickleball courts, disc golf, a ball field, tennis courts, horseshoe pits and volleyball courts. A pavilion offers shelter for outdoor dining. Noticeably missing are bathrooms. There are outhouses, though, with which I am also familiar having used one for the first 11 years of my life.
I appreciate the forward thinking of the good folks of Mission Township who, in 1959, purchased 39 acres for $1 with the intent of maintaining the natural beauty of the land and making it available for recreational use.
This “quiet place to be” has quickly become a favorite nearby place to explore whenever I’m at Jon and Rosie’s lake cabin.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
what a lovely, calming, quiet place. so much for all to enjoy. these places hold a special place in our hearts and in the hearts of all who appreciate them. this week, getting ready for school, we’re meeting with a professor who aligns with my philosophy of the importance of outdoor play and learning for children. last year, we started spending one school day a week outside, exploring, playing, and learning, and it was absolutely amazing. this year, I plan to expand our time spent outside.
I love that you’re incorporating outdoor learning and play into your teaching. More teachers should do this one day a week outside class thing. Good for you and others who are following your lead.
It has been wonderful for so many reasons
Great Captures – love that colorful mushroom! I love dragonflies and butterflies too and we have an abundance in our yard. I think we may have a mini version of a pollinator habitat. Happy Exploring – Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂
I bet, too, that you have a mini pollinator habitat. Thanks for appreciating my mushroom and dragonfly pix.
I like the photos of your dragonflies!
And that mushroom, o my!
Thank you, Valerie.
The perfect quiet place. I am a huge fan of ferns as well. We have a lot here but right now they are being overtaken by Asian Stiltgrass. Grrrr. I would much rather have ferns. This is a beautiful place from the looks of it.
I need to look up Asian Stiltgrass as I’ve not heard of that. I have lots of ferns in my yard. They’ve rather overtaken some flowerbeds.