August 22nd, 2005

self portrait

Prairie field trip

Yesterday afternoon, I took a field trip out to one of Minnesota's Scientific Natural Areas. It was a bit further afield than I thought, but well worth the drive. Appearing for all the world like a field that had been left to its own devices among the carefully managed corn fields, it's a fabulous haven of biodiversity. From the road it looks like a sea of grasses with a few trees poking up here and there. When you get down into it, however, you begin to see all the forbs poking up through the grass. Coneflowers and bergamot and blazingstars abound surprising you at every turn. Even stumbled across a specimen of rattlesnake master (though, thankfully, none of its mastered snakes).

It was a calming, renewing experience to stand in the middle of this sea of life. I could feel the living things around me in the rustle of the grass, the non-stop chirping of frogs and crickets, the riotous blooming of the flowers. Such a lovely place, it was only a shame that I had to leave so soon.

The trip also marked my first visit to New Ulm, MN, home of the Schell brewery. I didn't stop to get any beer, but did stop to see the Hermann Monument, though I arrived too late to pay the $1 to climb to its observation platform. How could one not, I ask, stop to see a giant statue of Hermann, the German? Lovely drive, adorable little towns all through the area. In Belle Plain, I stopped again and picked up a jar of dandelion honey made from the honey of a single hive. Got home at 10:00 p.m. feeling quite recharged.