Tuesday, November 18, 2008

October 4th, 2008

We had a much needed day away over a month ago now, and though we didn't plan much for the day, it ended up being one of the best days of my life. Seriously. It was as if fate was on our side, bringing one beautiful, perfect circumstance our way after another. As I said, we planned very little, but God planned a day that refreshed us deeply. In my opinion, it is a common misconception that your wedding is supposed to be the best day of your life... or maybe the birth of a child... but this day was awesome because it was nothing extraordinary, just many perfectly simple details strung together. All that, with none of the agonizing suspense or endless planning of the above mentioned "best" days.

We got up around 9 that morning, and lazily loaded our bikes onto the car, gathered up the girls and their gear, and set off for the charming little village of Welch. It is situated down in a valley, next to a lazy river. The last 5 miles on the road to Welch are narrow, windy, nestled down in a glade of hardwoods. As you get a glimpse of the town center, you might think you've stepped back in time. The perfect way to begin a relaxing day.

The Trout Scream Cafe and Post Office (above), the Welch Mill (below)

The plan for the day was bike riding along the Cannon River Trail, we rode half of it- from Welch to Red Wing, about 20 miles round trip. It was a crisp fall day. In the shade we were chilly, but in the sun (or after pedalling 20 miles) we were warm. There wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was that happy bright blue, almost a Rocky Mountain sky...

We picked up the trail at the old Welch train station then rode for a few miles before having our picnic lunch beside the river. We were sitting 20 feet from a mature elm tree, home to a Bald Eagle. We didn't actually get to see the bird, but a handful of locals stopped to ask if we had spotted him that day. On one side of the trail was the peaceful river, tall bluffs, and limestone cliffs. On the other side was farm land and evidence of civilization. Both views were totally enjoyable. The leaves were just starting to change. Here and there we crossed over creeks or gullies on sturdy wooden bridges. We pointed out interesting wildlife and plants to the girls as we went. The rode along, happily mesmerized by the motion of the bike trailer, eating snacks and playing with a few toys.When we arrived in Red Wing we hoped to find a sweet park to play at, but the park was only a few picnic tables and big, old trees. Eva had very much been looking forward to playing at a playground, but Eric seized the moment and taught her how to climb trees instead. When it was time to go, we could hardly pull her away from the her new found tree-home.

Hope wandered about unsupervised (mostly) for awhile until she got herself stuck inside the bike. She seemed pretty relaxed, despite her predicament.

On the way back from Red Wing, we noticed a small, hand-made wooden sign on the side of the trail. An arrow pointed up the hill side away from the river, and the sign read "Sculpture Garden". We didn't know what we would find, but opted for a little side trip anyway. As we walked up an overgrown path through the woods, we passed an elderly Asian couple decked out in blaze orange and carrying rifles. When we asked what they were doing, we got a confusing reply... but we eventually realized they were hunting squirrel. Who knew!?! I laughed. Hard. The trail to the mysterious sculpture garden took us up, up, up...

Then delivered us into a large clearing, where there most certainly were many sculptures alternated with fruitful apple trees. They were cool sculptures too, stimulating interesting conversation and observations from all of us. Eva's imagination ran wild, creating a whole new universe of life surrounding the sculptures. I should have taken pictures of all of my favorites, but I only captured the mosaic turtle. I am a sucker for anything mosaic, and this one was extra cool because it was a collaborative effort between the artists and students from Red Wing High School. I'm also a sucker for any opportunity to channel the creativity of young people.
Across the orchard/art display we could see some old buildings. It turns out, this whole area is the Anderson Center, a premier artist retreat. Loaded with history, these old buildings house all kinds of artistic endeavors, projects, ideas. Artists here are giving an interpretation of this modern world, in a setting that draws out homesickness for times gone by. A very cool place. Most of the buildings, including a killer greenhouse, were locked, but we pushed open the door to a water tower. We climbed the dark, spiral staircase to the top for a view of the whole river valley area. This was the absolute highlight of the day for all of us. The top of the tower holds a small room, reminiscent of Prince Edward Island lighthouses. The perfect escape, a place to read or nap, or just think. There were a few good books up there, a chess set, and a space heater. In our mind's eye, we imagined every intimate moment those walls had seen. The girls enjoyed standing on the edge of the balcony surrounding the water tower and looking at the ant-sized world below.

We walked the 78 steps down and closed the heavy iron door. It was awesome.

At the bottom of the tower, we decided to pacify our hungry tummies with a fresh picked apple. I figured that I hadn't eaten anything so purely nutritious in months. Every bite was full of up to the minute fresh enzymes, vitamins and minerals in top condition. Talk about eating locally! And for those of you who keep track- I am wearing my "uterus" shirt in this picture (again). What would a perfect day be without the perfect, well-worn t-shirt?

On the way back down to the bike trail, Eva picked me a heavenly bouquet of fresh, fall wildflowers.

We took a gentle pace biking...

And when we arrived back at the car, we found the girls like this:

The ingredients for a perfect day: beautiful weather, exercise, surprises, art, good food, exploration, natural beauty, adventure, history, hiking, cheerful children, flowers, being with the ones you love most.

1 comment:

Erin said...

How wonderful! I'd love to see pictures of the bouquet! Oh, and yes, I was keeping track of your "uterus" shirt...