Return to Cuyuna Country

I recently moved back to the Cuyuna Range. I moved away about four months ago and I missed it. I knew I’d someday move back, but I didn’t think it would be so soon.

Last October, I moved to the Twin Cities, my home during my teens and 20s. It was fun to be back in the metro area. I have a lot of family and friends there. I am familiar with the city and many of the suburbs. I also enjoyed driving on the freeways. Yes. Nature girl. She loves driving the freeways. Go figure.

Anyway, this week I moved back from whence I came. The Cuyuna Range is a place of lakes and hills, woods and rivers, hiking and biking trails, and wild animals. It is a place I love. My moving back is going to be done gradually over time since I have a place to keep my things down in the Cities. But my heart is already at home on the range. Home to stay.  

On my first day back, I went and hiked the hill to the Overlook at the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. The road up is lined with paper birch and oaks, red pines and red rocks. Old friends, those trees. All there to greet me. It was about 25° and close to dusk when I hiked up and down the hill. It felt good. Last winter I had made a commitment to hike the hill as many days as I could between Christmas and the first day of spring. I probably skipped a few that I could have hiked but in all I hiked most of the days during that stretch. It was a fun challenge. Gratifying. And my legs got dang strong. The best part was during March, watching spring emerge. Slow and steady melting into spring. The woods began coming to life a little more each time I hiked. My friends, the trees, woke up during that hiking challenge.

There are portions of nature that feel like old friends to me, like the trees on the hill. Places I’ve been as a child or an adult that I visited to repeatedly. Memories rooted in the soil and anchored in the lakes. Good memories. I love that about nature – it is friendly (most of the time) and always welcoming me back.

My hike on the hill the other day was on a snow-covered road, but banks alongside exposed bare tree roots where the road had been cut in. I looked at them, wondering how the trees felt about the exposure. I suppose they adjusted, in time. Like anything – or anyone – who suffers injury. Adjust. Once again, I contemplated how things in nature remind me of the human condition. I walked on, enjoying the snow and cold air.

Birch bark rolls hung on the trees and chickadees called to one another from the sloped hill, somewhere on branches. There weren’t any leaves for cover, but I still couldn’t spot any of the birds. Chick-a-dee-dee-dee. I enjoyed their banter. I love their call of Heyyyy-sweeeetie. I often hear it during springtime and think they must be looking for mates. Chickadees. Another of nature’s familiar friends. I’m sure I have passed by and seen hundreds upon hundreds of different chickadees, but they all seem the same to me. Familiar and friendly, pert little birds.

Soon, spring will be unfolding on the Cuyuna Range. And I’m here to watch it. I’m here to witness ice out, tree buds growing into leaves, and green grasses emerging as the snow melts and wildflowers are invited to peek up, into the warming air. I know, I know, there’s still a month of winter left. I don’t mind; I intend on hiking up that hill on many occasions.

I’ll keep at it until spring begins, say goodbye to winter in a proper manner with rosy cheeks and cold toes. Then, I’ll watch life burst out all over the Cuyuna Range. It’s good to be home.