Walking in Owasso Hills Park

The state of Minnesota has 10,000 lakes—so the license plates say. I’m a new Minnesotan, recently immigrated from Illinois, so I researched it. There are 11,842! That’s a lot of lakes compared to South Dakota where I grew up, which has 131.

            Minnesota also has bodies of water which are small and unnamed. One of those is an “unnamed wetland” in Roseville which is on the route I often take as a nature walk, which includes Owasso Hills Park.

            One mid-June day, I saw a sight so touching that I relive and retell it often.

A mother mallard was swimming with several small ducklings around her. The mother approached a thin fallen branch (about four to six inches in diameter) lying in the water. She ducked under to the other side. Then one by one, the little ducklings climbed onto the log, all in a row, and stayed there as though they were in school and had been instructed to do so. I counted ten baby ducklings!

            That scene begged for a picture; but, alas, I did not have my cellphone with me.

            Every time I walked that route, I looked for the mallard family.  The second time I spotted them, I was thrilled to see the mother mallard with ten ducklings swimming around her in Lake Owasso. I counted two or three times to make sure they were all still alive.

            As the days passed, it was harder to count the young mallards—when I saw them.

They stayed near the shore where tall grasses grow and swam in and around the

reeds.

            Other mallard families were also on the lake. I saw a mother with two ducklings swimming around, and another with four.

            Blacktop trails wind through the forested section of Owasso Hills Park. I’m delighted to spot wildlife along the way. One day a rabbit stood still as a statue until I came near; then it ran to the other side of the path into an area that camouflaged it well.

            I came upon a young deer looking directly at me and it didn’t run off until I was close, and then not far. I had my cellphone that day, and when I stopped to take the deer’s picture, I was rewarded with a nasty mosquito bite that took several days to heal.

I have also seen a doe with two young fawns.

            On the east end of the unnamed wetland, a mated pair of Canada geese introduced me to their four young goslings—by waddling away from me into the water. Only twice have I seen the family of Canada geese, but they were replaced by a large brilliant white swan. What an elegant creature with her long thin neck!

            I learned to skirt black-and-white creamy spots on the blacktop trail—especially after I noticed one that had been squished. A couple days later, there was a flock of about twenty Canada geese in a small green area near the wetland—and more black-and-white spots to avoid.

            I finished my loop east through the forest, then west down Owasso Hills Drive, where the large houses with three-car garages and manicured lawns provided a very different atmosphere. Hammers told of a new roof in progress. At first, it sounded like two houses were getting a new roof—the other a street away—until I realized the rap-rap-rap was the same, but an instant later. The echo like drumming in sound surround.                                                  

            When I started my return home, tall cottonwoods at the edge of the wetland cooled me with their shade; and, in concert with the breeze, their rustling leaves serenaded me high overhead.

             I saw dragon flies dart around the plants near the water, turtles sunning on logs, and hear frogs croaking.

            The gentle slope uphill required a few more calories to navigate. It’s unlikely that my walk would be recommended for physical fitness; but that walk was and is enjoyable, pleasing, spirit lifting, and likely recommended for the soul.

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