It’s a quiet day at Belwin Conservancy. The sun is out, the air is crisp and the trail outside the door calls quietly “come for a hike!”

Without hesitation, I answer the call, don coat, headband and boots and happily head out the door.

I make my way through the tall pines and come to an overlook for the Bulrush Slough. There is a thin sheen of ice on the western edge that reflects a bright sky.

I spot five deer across the water. They are still looking fuzzy in their winter brown coats. The two larger ones seem more alert to my presence. We watch each other with curiosity. After a minute or two they decide I am not a threat and saunter on their way through the spruce trees toward the creek. Their white tails flick up and down allowing me to track their progress as they leave. 

I continue on my way and come across three tom turkeys. I pause to watch them and laugh out loud at their comical ambulation across an icy patch in the path. They, too, are unconcerned with my presence. I see the iridescent colors of their feathers, glimmering in the welcome sunlight and hear the small purrs of each one as they quietly communicate with each other. I wonder what they are saying?  Are they grumbling about the snow and difficulty of travel? Or are they sharing tidbits about me, wondering why I am in their neighborhood? If I could, I would thank them and tell them I am here to share this bit of time in nature.

As the turkeys retreat I find a sunny spot and turn myself to face the sun. I close my eyes and open my ears. It’s a cacophony of noise.

From three different directions I hear woodpeckers drumming on trees. This is how they communicate to each other, to say that this is their space and none should argue with that!  Red winged blackbirds call out loudly with their “konkaree! konkaree!’ from the slough. They too are making it known that these cattails are their home for the summer. Blue jays pass overhead with their boisterous “jay ,jay, jay” — letting every creature know that they have arrived.

Cardinals sound out their spring song — “what cheer! what cheer!” — and I smile because they are right!

I hear the sweet and simple “feebee, feebee” of the Chickadee and feel the last remnants of any stress leave my face.

“Red-winged Blackbird in Flight” by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

I open my eyes, turn to walk a bit farther and am aware of the snow under my feet. The top inch is so soft and noiseless but as soon as I get to the next layer all bets are off for being quiet. The crunch, crunch, crunch of my boots creates an easy rhythm and I start to hum a nonsense tune.

This late snow is a gift for sure. Our winter that wasn’t has left a distinct deficit for the precipitation needs of our plant friends.

If I listen to the land I can hear an audible sigh of relief as moisture silently, slowly seeps through leaves and roots to nourish and replenish the soil moisture so necessary for the flush of growth to come.

As I head back to my starting point I feel happy. This last hurrah of winter and the first semblance of spring is invigorating for my soul. I know that life will begin to pick up in activities and the to-do list will grow long, but for today, I have the gift of time and a quiet day at Belwin Conservancy.

Lynette Anderson takes a photo of a blooming pasque flower at belwin

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We spark passion for wild places through conservation, education, and immersive experiences on more than 1,500 acres in Minnesota’s Saint Croix Valley.


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