Out in central Minnesota between the towns of New London and Glenwood, there is a string of natural prairie remnants — grassland that was so rocky or steep that it was never put into agricultural production. This land is a series of hilltops, valleys, and wetlands, where cattle roam and graze and rest in the shade of deciduous forest remnants, and farm fields are restricted to the places that were more level and the soil was deeper. The settlers who originally claimed this land certainly lived in a diverse topography with a rich mix of prairie and forest.
Who were these people? What did they see everyday when they looked out those windows onto the pond surrounded by oak forest?
Out the back door of the house, you walk up a fairly steep hill to the top of an esker covered here with a birch forest.
Making our way through muck and mud of the wetland we climb another side of the esker to take a look out at the whole landscape.
What is this esker, you ask? Well, I didn’t know either, until it was explained to me.
Eskers are formed as rivers running underneath mile thick glaciers drop their load of silt and sand in a narrow channel. When the glacier melts over the top of that glacial river, it leaves the mound of silty, sandy dirt behind it — a ridge that rises above the rest of the land.