WELCOME TO THE RIVER starry-eyed…
Thus begins a poem authored by 17 Northfield area poets and gracing steps leading to the River Walk in the heart of this historic southeastern Minnesota community.
Like the poets drawn to the river to create these inspirational Poem Steps, I, too, feel drawn to the river that runs through Northfield. Every time I’m downtown, I aim first for the path that traces the Cannon River behind the mostly aged buildings lining Division Street.
There’s something simply magnetic about a river. Listen to the words of these speaking waters. I can almost hear the stories—of the Indigenous Peoples, here first, of the settlers who followed and harnessed the water to mill flour, of the poets and others who today listen to these speaking waters.
The Cannon in Northfield, as it has for generations, brings people to water’s edge. To angle for fish, to dine, to gather as community, to celebrate the arts, to simply be in the river’s presence.
I appreciate how this community recognizes the historic, poetic and natural beauty of the river and shares that via the River Walk. It’s such a beautiful walk, beauty enhanced by potted flowers and hanging baskets that jolt vibrant hues into the landscape. A pedestrian bridge provides a middle-of-the-river perspective.
Listen. The river tells us where it needs to go.
And so I follow the river path, then loop up to the fronts of businesses along Division Street. Yet, the essence of the river remains, her poetry inspiring me.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling