The Prodigal Sun

By Mary Beth Pottratz

Sunbeams glint off mounds of tiny snowflakes. Today’s 26⁰, calm winds and bright sun are even causing sidewalks to melt their fluffy coatings. Light and shadow play on hills and valleys of snow-covered plantings.

Snow-covered plantings
Snow-covered plantings

Mom and I admire the sparkling layers of snow that frost spruce trees and clump over dried flowerheads and shrubs. We luxuriate in sun rays that shone only on cloud tops the past two months. Soon the chilly air forces us indoors.

Wild turkey
Wild turkey

Soup warms us as we watch nuthatches, woodpeckers, blue jays, cardinals, chickadees and juncos feast on the seeds at feeders outside the Arboretum Restaurant. A male wild turkey strikes a pose and shows off his handsome feathers before clambering up a bank.

Glass Oak Leaves Sculpture
Glass Oak Leaves Sculpture

A glass sculpture of leaves dance in a whirlwind of glimmering rays. Behind them, oaks stubbornly hang on to the few leaves they have left.

Birch bark bow
Birch bark bow

Indoors, a 20-foot tree of poinsettias graces the Visitor Center’s Great Hall. Several other holiday trees are decorated in a variety of styles. The Minnesota Herb Society’s tree uses natural materials to create stunning decorations, from a simple birch bark bow to a gourd-bird with feathers of leaves, dried grass seedheads, and ostrich fern blade. It sports a pine cone head and dried yellow flower for an eye.

An accurately felted redheaded woodpecker hangs from a birch branch.Birds woven of birch bark strips with long, curling tails flit through the branches. Fantasy birdhouses are adorned with bark, leaves, seeds and cedar sprigs.

Sunlit scene
Sunlit scene

Back outside, sunlight plays on snow covered boulders. We stop to admire the sunlit scene from the shadows behind a bank of cedars. Sun rays stretch shadows into long stripes as we head home, another memory made.

Mary Beth Pottratz is a Minnesota Master Naturalist Volunteer. More information about the Master Naturalist Program is available at


2 Comments Add yours

  1. marta says:

    Absolutely beautiful!!

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