Roaming through our legacy


     It was a bad week for a restless outdoors person.

     First I made plans to put my kayak in the lake. No, it was raining. No problem, I’ll go on a bike ride down the Lake Wobegon Trail the next morning. No, it was still raining.

     Then my wife and I planned to take off early and hike the hilly trails to Mt. Tom at Sibley State Park. You guessed it. Rain for the third day.

     Finally, I gave up and went up to our cabin in the woods to do some indoor fixing. Once done, the rain let up to a light mist and I just had to break loose, rain-soaked woods or no rain-soaked woods.

“You’re crazy,” yelled my wife. “You’re right I replied.

     I put on an old pair of waterproof hiking boots, a war torn rain jacket a big ugly hat and I headed out on the Hjelmar Road.

     The Hjelmar Road leads to the Hjelmar land, that old Hjelmar Huff, a Norwegian, homesteaded in 1884.  My grandfather a Norwegian married farmer, bought the little six-acre patch of land from his son August in 1922.

     I’ve hiked, skied, Jeeped, cut wood and hauled hay on that old road most of my life.  I shocked wheat and oats in the Hjelmar Land, camped in the summer and dug a snow cave in the winter. I shot my first deer here and picked blackberries by the quart.

     On my walk I chased up a deer. A female grouse stood in the center of the trail, checking me out before darting into the dark underbrush.

     It was like another world, bright green spring leaves dripping of rainwater while clouds broke open far enough to let a rainbow peak through the mist. What a tonic, marching through the woods thinking through my day and how good it is to have a wild place to roam.

     I wish every person in Minnesota had a place like this. Everyone should have a place to leave the ordinary routine of life behind and feel the ebb and flow of nature, especially kids.

     Minnesota’s Poet Laureate Robert Bly says “the only way to maturity is through nature.” Only by seeing the gentle flow and powerful forces of nature can we come to understand the ebbs and flows of our own lives.

     I was thinking of the Legacy Fund we now have in Minnesota, where voters approved an increase in the sales tax of 3/8ths of one percent to protect our waters and habitat, enhance our parks and trails and add to the arts. So far I’ve attended one of the 17 public meetings giving my two cents into how the money should be spent.

     The Legacy Fund could raise $1 billion over the next 25 years for parks and trails. I went to the meeting with lots of ideas of what “I” wanted to see happen, but I left thinking more of “them.” There was a true spirit of people wanting to leave something wonderful to the generations that will follow us.

We have a plaque over the fireplace that reads, “May the spirit of the woods grant you peace.”

The Hjelmar land was a six-acre mess of wet corn stubble as I stood on a good-size hill in the center, overlooking a beautiful marshland.

     I called upon that spirit of the woods to protect this Legacy Fund we have from creative, budget-balancing legislators and misguided administrators. I prayed it would truly leave a Legacy greater than the one we’ve received.

     I arrived home refreshed, feeling confident this Legacy was secure.

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