Wednesday, September 27, 2006

From the Minnesota Bluff Country

I'm leading a lovely bike tour this week in southern Minnesota, what's called the Bluff Country around these parts. You see, the ice age glaciers didn't scrape these valleys flat. Here in southeastern Minnesota and southwestern Wisconsin, the plants and animals of the hollows and forests are indeed actually rebounding, as in New England, more trees and wildish land now than a hundred years ago.

These are out of the way places the march of the industrial revolution has let regress back to a more agrarian and at least semi-natural ideal.

The time is right for a bike tour in these latitudes, a stroll, walking the dog, diving into piles of leaves, picking out pumpkins. The fringes of summerish weather are delicate and precious. Warmth's days are numbered 'til the chill takes over for good. The world may be warming in ominous ways, and that trend's effects are seen here as well, but some delicacy and charm are left to the back and forth changing of the seasons, some hours Indian summer, others swept with gun metal-colored rain and then kite quilts of swirling orange and red and rust-colored leaves.

There is a lot going on here that meets the eye.

We are out of the news, hearing almost nothing, making nothing much ourselves but miles and time. In the here and now, between prairie fields and river, we are making time, not for anyplace else or for memories or for envious others or for next time but for NOW.

And here, along the paved and placid bike trails of the Root River in far southern Minnesota, just west of the grand and epic old big river, Miss'SIP, away in the nooks and crannies of limestone and maple and birch and fishing raptors and river trout and turtles, the rest of the restless world seems rather far away, sad if not sinister, but again, here, mostly remote. We don't hear those noises here on the trail, keeping to ourselves rolling, gliding along. We are at peace with the world or at least this world, this out of the way place of peace.


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