Monday, June 2, 2008

Bison and Pipestone

We are so happy to be at home. This past weekend my children and I went with a couple friends to Blue Mounds State Park near the South Dakota border. We did an pretty fair amount of hiking, but also viewed the bison heard that the park maintains. We also visited the Pipestone National Monument and the Jeffers Petroglyphs.

Pipestone has been the site where Native Americans quarried Catlinite, a soft stone named for a European explorer who "found" the site. The stone was and is often made into ceremonial pipes and sacred figures. My children each got a piece as well as I. The items made of this soft stone will have to be placed up in a "safe" spot in our home and left alone--a true challenge for my small boys.

We also returned to the petroglyphs. While the we had been there last summer and were very impressed. Mary and Kathryn seemed to enjoy them as well. Kathryn went ahead of us to look at them; it seemed to fascinate her, but she really likes Native American culture and history.

The petroglyphs, estimated to be about nine to be about nine to twelve thousand years old, are beautiful. Blue mounds also had some wonderful sites. There is an alignment of rocks that are in line with the sun on the first day of spring and fall. The outcroppings of Sioux quartzite are pinkish red, however, when the lichen grows on them and the sun hits them, they appear blue in color. From one, a person is able to view Iowa on the left and South Dakota on the right.

I had always thought that southern Minnesota was a bland flatland devoid of many features. It is, in fact, a vast prairie that has wonderful sites from the small cacti and unique flowers to the magnificent rolling hills. I am glad my kids don't have to wait for years to discover that all of our state should be appreciated.

I was happy that Mary was able to stop to see her brother and parents. It was a pleasant surprise for them and I think she enjoyed the impromptu visit. It reminded me of my father and then again of the bittersweet nature of life. It was an exhausting weekend for all of us, but I definitely want to do it again sometime. Perhaps in the fall.

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