SUNLIGHT FILTERED THROUGH THE WOODS, cutting sharp angles across trails, spotlighting wildflower blossoms, gloaming with an ethereal quality.
The end of the day was nearing as my husband and I walked the trails of River Bend Nature Center in Faribault, first at a fast pace to raise our heart rates. That didn’t last long.
Soon I unslung my camera from my shoulder, stopped to photograph wildflowers carpeting the woods lush with green growth. Green always seems incredibly vivid in the spring. I often wonder if that’s because it is or because we Minnesotans haven’t seen a green landscape in way too long.
It doesn’t matter. I am thankful for spring’s early arrival, with winter but a memory now, although Randy mentioned the white wildflowers looked a lot like snow blanketing the ground.
Walkers and bikers, solo and with family or pets, traversed the nature center. We paused occasionally, wondering about the history of this place, about the pockets of limestone clearly quarried, about the Faribault Regional Center residents who once worked this land and tended livestock here, about the land before then.
I wondered, too, about Aron and Kristi who carved their names into the soft wood of a trail-side tree.
As we emerged from the woods, I scanned the vista of sky and prairie. I am most comfortable in a place where my eyes can wander, where I am not visually hemmed in by trees. The imprint of my rural southwestern Minnesota upbringing remains strong even forty years removed from the prairie.
Crossing the prairie, I watched my steps on the uneven grass trail and thought about ticks. I felt a bump on the left side of my head, my fingers drawing blood as I scratched. There was no tick, Randy assured me.
We soon settled onto a bench next to the prairie pond and listened to the trill of red-winged blackbirds.
Dried cattails plumed in the lovely light. I felt comfortably at peace.
After awhile we aimed back toward the parking lot, where I paused to photograph pink blossoms against deep blue sky.
I diverted to bird feeders behind the nature center interpretative center. The birds scattered, wary of my presence. But soon they returned and I photographed them, admiring splashes of red on heads, wings and breasts. I’m not particularly fond of winged creatures up close. But from afar, I can appreciate them.
According to Randy, I should have kept my distance upon photographing a pair of geese and seven goslings earlier. It’s interesting how a camera can create confidence that perhaps we shouldn’t always have when encountering nature.
On this stunning May evening in Minnesota, all felt right in my world. And all it took was a walk in the woods and across the prairie of River Bend Nature Center.
TELL ME, WHAT’S YOUR go-to place to escape into nature?
© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling