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Not very many children, or most people for that matter, are aware of that fact that one of Sun Prairie’s own parks is home to one of the most beautiful spring-fed ponds in the area. So many people pass the entrance to this piece of paradise on a daily basis, completely oblivious to the treasure that lies a little way down the water. Approaching the tattered old bridge over the stream, one would never guess that a magical world lives beyond the rugged pine trees and moss-covered rocks. However, if one dares to venture down the path less traveled, they may find a breathtaking experience waiting to greet them.
Off to the side of where the railing for the bridge begins, there is a small dirt path that has been worn away by many animals and critters making their way through. A gentle slide down the path drops out onto a bed of rock speckled with red, brown, and black. The stream creates the slightest ambience paired with the various chirps and squeaks of the surrounding wildlife. The atmosphere is nearly intoxicating.
Once past the dirt path and onto the rocks, one’s inner gymnast must surface a little in order to step and hop from rock to rock in order to avoid taking a premature dip in the water. In some areas, the dirt cliffs that line either side of the creek surrender some of their territory to miniature sand beaches littered with pebbles and former homes of shellfish. Along the edges of these sandy patches, the moss and algae growth from years of moisture is highly evident. Uneven layers of various shades of green and blue create the most natural form of art that the naked eye is privileged enough to behold.
About a mile or so down the stream, there is a secret pond that motivated hikers will discover. The journey to this pond sets the stage for the peace and relaxation that awaits. Although there is a slight amount of work required to experience nature’s full potential, the end is worth it. Venturing along the stream, the occasional groundhog or squirrel will appear on the cliff side to observe the passerby. Being able to share nature with those who inhabit it, is one of the most spiritually uplifting acts that one can be a part of. The way that the birds float worry-free on the breeze and dip down for a refreshing bath is an experience that won’t be found on social media or the internet. As the journey continues and the water deepens, the small minnows and aquatic life come up to the surface to greet this massive world. Tiny air bubbles rise to the surface as the creatures who prefer the bottom of the water, reveal their positions. This nature walk also provides the occasional adrenaline rush when an undesired visitor such as a snake happens to cross paths and the fight-or-flight instinct kicks in.
Arrival at this hidden pond is signaled by the dirt cliff to the right side giving way to a small sand beach big enough to lay out 3 large towels. A shallow pond about 10 feet across and no more than 4 feet deep claims the rest of the beach. The water collected in the pond is shockingly clear enough to see the individual rocks and pebbles that reside at the bottom. Spruce and Oak trees dominate the cliff sides and hang over the pond, providing shade while still allowing sunlight through, warming the pond. The serenity of the environment is priceless and enough to relieve even the most powerful anxieties. I learned the effects of the atmosphere one time when I ventured down the trail to the bridge. The whole time I was walking, I was thinking about all of the real-world problems that I needed to deal with. I had been thinking about my bills, my car needing an oil change, and all other natural stressors of daily life. However, once I set foot onto the rock bed at the end of the dirt path, all of the worries that had been clouding my thoughts, seemed to dissipate. A wave of Zen crashed over me and I was at peace with myself and the world around me. It was in that very moment that I realized how powerful nature really was.
Sitting on the sand beach, there is so much scenery to take in. On one side, there is the mixture of Oak and Pine trees that create a forest home to families of wildlife. Entangled roots and vines booby-trap the floors of this undisturbed territory. Various chirps and calls from animals of all walks of life add to the calming ambience. To the other side, there lies a small pond, nearly reflective. Part of the water is protected by shade, allowing marine plants to flourish. Sunlight pierces through the treetops in glowing beams. In the places that these beams strike the water, the temperature is slightly above lukewarm, which is incredibly inviting on a 100-degree day. Every once in a while, the occasional fish or turtle will pass by on their own individual journey to an unknown destination.
Adventuring through unexplored territory can make the outside world of bills and real life fade away. Water splashes on the sides of the rocks, each time it pulls away, it claims a worry as its own and relieves the troubled former owner. Each breath takes in the crisp natural air, and exhales the poisoned thoughts and emotions that reality creates. Sometimes the best place to be is lost somewhere between real-life and dream-walking.