NORTH ALEXANDER PARK in Faribault has become, for me, a place of refuge. A place to walk. A place to connect with land, sky and river. The park offers a paved riverside trail, part of the city’s inter-connected trails system, that bends into a tree-filled space.
When life gets especially stressful, as it has thus far in 2022, enveloping myself in nature allows me to temporarily escape reality. Who doesn’t need a break? Focusing on the natural world rather than struggles and challenges brings a sense of peace, of calmness and sometimes clarity.
This sprawling park on Faribault’s north side is home to many waterfowl, drawn to the Cannon River. I never tire of watching them, whether in flight over the water, in the water or beside the water.
Their numbers seem down this year, perhaps due to avian influenza. Still enough ducks and geese meander the shoreline and trail to make me watch where I step.
I even spotted a pair far from shore, under the bleachers at a ball field.
While I’ve never been fond of winged anything up close, I certainly admire them (except bats) at a distance. Mallard drakes, with their iridescent green heads, practically shimmer with beauty. And the hens are lovely, too, in their mottled brown feathers.
In the spring, ducklings and goslings draw my motherly eye. There’s something about a baby.
The Cannon River also attracts pelicans. And eagles. On a recent riverside walk, I saw an eagle trace the river, reverse course and settle low in a tree along the opposite shoreline. Too far away to photograph even with my zoom lens. It just sat there. I was hoping it would swoop down to grab a fish. But, when I left, the eagle still perched in that tree. Quiet. Still.
There’s something to be learned from observing waterfowl. How they sit. How they glide. How they navigate wind and water. How they adapt.
So I will continue these riverside walks, immersing myself in nature, discovering the peace and quiet that comes from connecting with ducks and geese, pelicans and eagles at North Alexander Park in Faribault.
TELL ME: Do you escape into nature? If yes, where’s your favorite place to go and how does being in the natural world benefit you?
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling