Best spots to go touch some grass when overwhelmed

Maia Honl – Opinion Columnist

Mother nature has been a real tease recently, hasn’t she? The month of March has changed seasons more times than I’ve changed my mind about my major. There was that pyrite spring, but in true Minnesotan fashion, a blizzard came and covered everything in snow. Again. We’ve all been daydreaming about the warmth of spring, but there’s still the question of what there’s going to be to do once everything thaws. COVID-19 had its first birthday recently, and there’s no telling when things are going to be up and running again. Gustavus has been trying its best to keep us entertained, but it’s not like they can give the experience of breathing in a fresh spring breeze over Zoom.
If you’re anything like me, the Arboretum has been the place to go to whenever you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed. The Arb is the happy place for many other Gusties, but there’s only so many times that you can walk off the beaten gravel path before you start to get used to it. The desire to do something new is rearing its familiar head, and there isn’t a way to satiate that on campus. There are plenty of places to check out in St. Peter, though. Once it’s warm enough to actually do stuff outside, make plans to go into town to check out these spots.
Starting off real sweet, we have Hallet’s Pond by the Nicollet County Fairground. You can come rest next to this pond with a picnic blanket and all the finger foods you can carry. Plenty of trees act as the border between the pond and the fairgrounds, which are perfect for hammocking on. With a large field next to the pond, you can frolic to your heart’s content. Or, you know, play ultimate Frisbee.
Speaking of Frisbee, did you know that there’s a disc golf course in town? Apparently it floods easily since it’s next to the river, much to the dismay of the older men who took the time to rate it two stars on Google Reviews. When the course isn’t dealing with Mother Nature like we all have to, there are 18 holes you can play at. The course is also connected to some of the many trails within St. Peter. You can go explore that piece of nature even more if you have the energy to do so after your intense game of disc golf.
More the type for quiet contemplation? I’m the same way, so I’m hoping you’ll stick with me for this one. I was shown this place last semester by a close friend of mine, and it still reigns as my favorite place to go to when I’m in need of a chill hangout spot. Is it quiet and slightly isolated? Yes. Is it beautiful and tranquil? Absolutely. Is it a graveyard? …Also yes. Now I know that sounds bad, but listen. The Woodlawn Cemetery is a very, VERY old cemetery that is located on the side of a hill. There are some very impressive gravestones within this cemetery, enough to make you think that this is where the richer, original owners of the nice houses in St. Peter were buried. It isn’t uncommon to hear owls when you’re out there, and there’s something peaceful about walking next to these gravestones and learning about the people that were here so long ago. It definitely can get spooky at night though, so if you scare easily this probably isn’t the best spot for you.
Okay okay, enough about the cemetery, we can get into my obsession on all things gothic at another time. On a completely different note, HOW in the world did I not know that St. Peter has multiple dog parks? There are three different dog parks in town, though it seems that the most popular one is the St. Peter dog park off of Broadway Avenue. If you have a dog for an ESA on campus, PLEASE take them to one of these parks and have a photoshoot with them. When you post those pictures, make sure you tag me so that I can see them and get my daily appreciation for animals. If you don’t own a dog, it’s not like they can forbid you from entering the park to get your own dose of cuteness. The St. Peter Dog Park is open 24 hours a day, but don’t expect to see a dog there at two in the morning when you have a meltdown over online classes. In fact, please don’t yell at me if you go to the park and there aren’t any dogs there.
It’s easy to feel like there is nothing to do when everything is shut down and you’ve been eating the same meal at the campus center for like, three weeks now. However, you have to remind yourself that the important stuff in life isn’t centered around Zoom or your Moodle. Taking the time to go out and observe the world really helps with centering yourself and gives you the time to reach a stable mindset. I may be shriveling away with the lack of a break and midterms piling up, but I can go out to some random isolated field, breathe, and remind myself that this stress is temporary.

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