History Making Solo Female Kayaker Visits Henderso

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

How many Hendersonites noticed a tent perched along the levee The last week in May? Our Minnesota River has enumerable tales to tell, some which she keeps secret, other stories beyond belief. For instance. About a week or so ago, a nephew, Chad Straub (Stacy)and his daughter, Karragen, were fishing above the Rush River outflow into the river, half-way between LeSueur and Henderson. Their afternoon’s sojourn was interrupted by a lone kayaker rounding a log-strewn-bend and moving south UP the river. The young occupant of the kayak identified herself as Madison Williams, originally from upstate New York, attempting a kayak trip from St. Paul to Lake Winnipeg and thence to Hudson Bay, Canada. Madison was battling floating logs, assorted debris, murky deep churning water plus relentless wind. (Readers will remember the storms and tornados frequenting the area as well.)

After escorting Madison to the LeSueur Park boat landing, the Straubs invited her to their rural home where she spent a few days taking in the sights in LeSueur, St. Peter and Henderson. She learned how to identify morel fungi plus many of the late May forest ephemerals. Then once more, she was on her way south, then northwest up the Minnesota River to her destination, Hudson Bay.

Just imagine. This solo female kayaker is on a 1,500-mile kayak expedition from Minneapolis to York Factory, Manitoba, Canada, passing past Henderson, LeSueur, St. Peter and countless villages and major cities along the way. During her courageous journey, Madison “Hopes to promote environmental conservation. Our care of these lakes and rivers has a literal ripple effect downstream, with waters flowing to both the Gulf and the Arctic.” As climate change takes its toll upon people, air, land and waters, it is enheartening that there are young people brave enough to experience first-hand and pass along concerns for the future of our immediate area as well as precious Planet Earth. At 2:00 on Sunday, June 5th, Madison had reached New Ulm!!!! One may trace our heroine’s journey by bringing up the Website, Expedition Alpine.

Locally, spring has burst like a firecracker. Although hampered by relentless winds, Neotropical birds finally returned to trees barren of leaves, a burst of sudden heat, then cold once more, finally gathering nesting materials and going right to work. After the storms of late May, early June, numerous branches in LeSueur/St.Peter and area cities crashed to the earth, spewing forth nests, eggs and baby birds. The tendency is to ‘rescue those cute babies,’ yet we’ve learned again and again, “Let parent birds do the saving, otherwise one ends up grieving.” Sounds heartless, but true.

The major ‘bird news’ of the June 4th weekend is that Sylvia and Sylvan Trumpeter swan cygnets arrived at Coachlight Pond, between Henderson/LeSueur. If you drove Highway #93 on Saturday, June 4th, your designated observer would have spotted Sylvan teaching four cygnets to eat. While Sylvia sat on her muskrat house estate with three cygnets, Sylvan went into the ‘swan shuffle.’ That is, he would quake and shake the turgid water with his wings, stirring up delicacies of plant and animal debris out of the pond mud. The little ones would crowd around ‘dad,’ and from this point on their growth spurts are noticeable each day. UNLESS. Yes, unless a creature of the deep, a hungry raptor from the air, a hail storm…potential for sudden death is always present. Add to these factors one more unseen danger…lead from shotgun blasts of the past entering the bird’s body while feeding from the muck of the pond. The Coachlight was a popular fowl hunting area for many years, that was before people became aware of the danger of lead in a bird’s bloodstream. Beware, little cygnets, beware!
Meanwhile, spring sights enhance our lives, bring hope to our days, and smiles where they’ve been missing.