Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A Minnesota evening in May: A photo essay May 16, 2019

 

A QUEST FOR ESCAPE, for peace, for a closeness with nature took me to Shager Park and the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail along Cannon Lake near Faribault Tuesday evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the golden hour just before sunset, I walked the trail, stopping often to photograph my surroundings before landing on a dock overlooking the lake.

 

 

These are my photos—images which capture the essence of May in southern Minnesota.

 

 

 

 

Experience the motion of peace.

 

 

See the beauty.

 

 

Embrace nature.

 

 

And find herein the reason spring in the Bold North so delights those of us who live here.

 

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Delighting in Owatonna’s Mineral Springs Park on a Sunday afternoon April 19, 2016

A sign explains the legend of Princess Owatonna, represented in an early 1930s statue in Mineral Springs Park.

A sign explains the legend of Princess Owatonna, represented in an early 1930s statue in Mineral Springs Park. The statue was restored in 1986, but appears in need of repair work again.

I DRANK A LONG, deep drink of glacier cold spring water bubbling from a fountain in Owatonna’s Mineral Springs Park. Water that tasted of iron, of the earth. Water that, as legend goes, holds healing power. Princess Owatonna, the daughter of Chief Wabena, supposedly drank daily of the springs along Maple Creek, regaining her health.

I drank from this fountain of spring water.

I drank from this fountain of spring water. Owatonna Mineral Springs Company spring water was served on railroad dining cars back in the day.

Whether legend or truth, it mattered not to me. I drank more, until my husband pointed out rust running across the park roadway from the spilling water fountains. (I should have noticed the rust in the fountain bowls.)

Maple Creek winds through the park. Several pedestrian bridges cross the waterway.

Maple Creek winds through the park. Several pedestrian bridges cross the waterway.

This 48-acre park is a lovely place, nestled at the base of wooded hills, the creek flowing through.

Maple Creek runs surprisingly clear.

Maple Creek runs surprisingly clear.

I watched this drake for a long time swimming in the creek.

I watched this drake for a long time swimming in the creek.

I was especially impressed by the clarity of the water, so clear I could see the webbed feet of a drake paddling. So clear I could see the creek bottom. So clear I could see a minnow swimming.

The Princess Owatonna statue up close.

The Princess Owatonna statue up close.

Sunday was the perfect day to visit this park with the 1930s statue of the Indian Princess after whom this southern Minnesota community is named. So legend claims.

On the wooded hillside, these wildflowers bloomed.

On the wooded hillside, these wildflowers bloomed.

Sun baked heat into the afternoon at an unseasonably warm 70-plus degrees. Wildflowers bloomed. Hints of buds greened trees. A butterfly darted.

Fishing in Maple Creek, although there were not fish to be seen except minnows.

Fishing in Maple Creek, although there were not fish to be seen except minnows.

Kids raced around the playground, energized. Guys tossed horseshoes. A boy fished with his dad. Walkers walked dogs. The signature scent of roasting hot dogs drifted from the picnic shelter grill.

People smiled. How could you not? Sunday marked a glorious summer-like spring day in Minnesota. As beautiful as they come in April.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling