Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mankato's Hidden Treasure

Hey All...THRILLED to see that a blog site is being created to swap stories and experiences that were born in Mankato's own Rasmussen Woods. I have spent the past five years in and out of the woods developing environmental programming via Elk's Nature Center. Unfortunately, since August's end programming was suspended and the center closed until further notice. I will continue to be down there in all seasons as the woods, and the center which has served the community well since 1990, provide respite from day to day challenges and inspire with each breeze. Gaze up up through the thinning fall canopy and peak into the center windows. Share your insights and stories and join me as we await the next chapter....


  1. I must say, this fall has been quite busy for me but I still have time to visit the woods at least twice a month. I do miss relaxing by the fireplace in the center. Thank you, Denise, for keeping everyone posted on the status of the center. Lets hope it will open up sooner rather than later.

  2. Hey, this is so cool. I am learning something about following blogs and only this second realized others had some thoughts on the subject. Thanks to you Bre and here is to being attentive as the winds of change blow.....though sometimes it seems futile, I encourage anyone with ideas, thoughts, concerns, to let city leaders know what you think. There's got to be an economical, truly collaborative way to keep the center doors open to the public.

  3. By the by, share this blog with folks you know. It is easy to do via facebook. I just did. Hopefully others will show some interest.

    Until Next Time....

  4. A New Year has begun and Rasmussen Woods and other areas of the mid-west are in a deep freeze. -26 this a.m. though we have climbed up to -4. Thankful for the sunshine!!

    Had a thought about how to keep the nature center open to the public without costing too much $$. What about using it as a satellite office for the city or some other business or organization? Community volunteers could then anchor eves and weekends? Give leaders with the city a new year ringle and let them know your thoughts and ideas.

    May peace and inspiration be your guide now and in the New Year ahead!


  5. Hey All...time for an update. According to city personnel, the nature center is slated to open on Friday's in February from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. This is a start so three cheers for the inroad!

    A press release from the city is forthcoming. Here tell there will be a call for volunteers. I will be phoning. I hope you will too. I believe that a full time space for environmental community building is a necessity for our community. One cost effective way to achieve this is for the city or another organization to use the space as a satellite from 8 ish to 4 ish Monday through Friday. Community volunteers could then stablize a full time center by holding down eves and weekends. Let your spirit be your guide and phone city leaders to share your thoughts and to volunteer as the opportunity permits!

    By the by...in today's Mankato paper there was an article via the Editor around the subject of lifelong educational opportunities in Mankato and budget implications there in. Rasmussen Woods and the nature center were not mentioned. Puzzling to me.

    If the space matters to you...please let your perspective be known. If you decide to write a letter to the editor, walk it in and sign it. This will give you the best chance of getting it published.

    Do enjoy this Jan. thaw and Minnesota's magical winter season!

    Until Next Time,


  6. I come to this blog to relay tragic events that have transpired. On Sunday, March 28th, a mother of three was gunned down in the Troost Garden turn around. I received news of the incident through my Mom-in-Law who keeps pulse through a scanner. When I got the news I prayed that it was not someone I knew and held close. While the event was tragic, a personal connection would intensify the loss, the violence, the void.

    In the next day we learned the name,Svetlana. My heart sank and all I could scream was NO! I know a Svetlana. A Svetlana from Russia. A Svetlana with three children. A Svetlana who was managing a world filled with domestic abuse. A Svetlana who yearned and strove to make the United States and Mankato her home. A Svetlana who spent time in Rasmussen Woods, who volunteered at Elk's Nature Center, who understood the intricate balance between nature and civilization. She was our Svetlana.

    Last time I spent time with Svetlana was in December of last year. She pulled into the nature center parking lot with her three children safe, warm, and napping. She jumped out of her car with a cooking pot. I thought "Christmas time...Christmas goodies...how thoughtful..." When she entered the center we embraced the moment like we alway do...did. She said in most understandable English but laced with a romantic, Russian dialect..."Denise, I have a bat in this pot that was on the floor of my garage. I almost stepped on it. I want it to be safe. What should I do? My daughter told me I should not pick it up but I could not leave it on the floor to be hurt." Svetlana and I took the bat in the pot to a near by bat house. I put on leather gloves. She gently lifted the lid and I reached inside and equally as gently lifted the bat from the pot. I placed the bat on a wall of the house near the peak and it ever so joyfully scurried up the wall of the house into it's safe resting place.

    Please... drive into the woods soon. See the shrine that is being established with each passing day. Know that Svetlana was a mother who was determined to make a better life for her lovely children. Know that she was a person of joy, gentility and persistance. Know that despite the challenges she faced, each time we spent time, she demonstrated peace,joy,integrity and commitment.

    A fund has been established by someone, some organization,to benefit her children. I believe it is called the Svetlana Munt Beneficiary Fund through Wells Fargo. Please donate as generously as you can. Peace to Svetlana who will be ever present in Rasmussen Woods and in my heart.

  7. Here I am...is anybody out there? Hey...is there anybody home? Crazy stuff blogging. A person enters a though. it may or may not cath on based on public interest, technological savy?

    I am entering this...without my "cheeters". Yep...crossed that bridge close to 15 years past. I squint and am amazed at how keyboarding and practice helps. People...never give up aaa.sss.ttt.bbb. and so on and so on.

    Since I last came on board interesting events have happened. I have spoken with more Russian spaking people than ever before, I have learned the symoblic representation of the dragonfly, I hold Svetlana closer than ever before.

    Also, some magical weeding imps have made their way into the woods and cleared the Troost Garden which is where Svetlana moved from this world to the next.

    Also, the predator is facing 4 counts of first degree. Empathetic but he must not impose such tragedy ever again.

    The park, still peacefull. The shrine, still potent. I drove past this eve and saw 4 deer crossing the path and watched the dragonflies spin. She is so with me.

    Beyond this we must join together to open the center as much as possible. I want to call a meeting at the garden soon so pleae...is there anybocy out there...stay tuned.

    Remember...no cheters so please excuse typos.

    Love You So...


  8. Greetings,

    Been awhile since I took time to make a note. Have a minute so thought now....with cheeters...would be a fine use of the moment!

    Since I last wrote the shrine in the woods for Svetlana is present and powerful. The garden is overgrown but waits patiently for attention. The city has opened the park 10 - 4 p.m. via MSUM Parks Rec and Leisure students who are gallantly serving as paid interns. The interpretive signs, initiated some 5 years ago, have been produced and installed. The rhythm of life pulses on.

    I have met Svetlana's friends and family. Lunched at her grave site with those who sense the void, and remember her with warmth and joy each and every day.

    Hoping that all of you are making your way into the woods and enjoying this fleeting summer season. With you all in spirit!