Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wednesday Waterfall: Cascade River State Park, Minnesota

The Minnesota North Shore has long been one of my favorite places. I dig the Scandinavian efficiency with which the coast from Duluth to Grand Portage is laid out: cool little towns, then state parks, then gobs of national forest, then cool little town, a bad ass tunnel through a cliff, etc. It seems tailor made for active travel, sort of like an inland Pacific Coast Highway, but better because you can wear flannel and there's less coke. Whoa, did I say that? I did.

I found this gnarled old cedar clinging to the black volcanic rock of Cascade River State Park near Grand Marais, Minnesota. That's the Cascade River behind it, ripping through a tight gorge before throwing itself over a series of falls and dumping out into Lake Superior.

I love finding spots like this where Ma Nature mouths you by the scruff of your neck and shakes you a bit. "Pay attention," she says, "I'm trying to teach you something here."

The lesson I learned here is to endure. Persevere. Hang on even if nobody else is. And above all, grow.

That's all well and good, and quickly forgotten as I hopped back in the car and went about my picture making way, trying to acquire as many salable images as I could during that short trip a few years ago. But here's the beauty of still photography: that image, that moment, is still here with us several years later and can teach the same lessons, ones that are even more important now that our houses are worth less than we paid for them, our beautiful children WILL NOT GO TO SLEEP and for some reason (I know this is trivial but it still pains me) the winter sky refuses to sprinkle us with its magic dust (not talking about coke anymore).

So, yeah, I need to wrap this up. "Be well, do good work and keep in touch." What? Somebody already said that? Keillor, again?

Okay....ah, how about: "Pay attention, remember and share?"

Aaron Peterson is a photographer and writer based near Marquette and Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but he's been known to go to Minnesota, Wisconsin and Ontario too if the money's good.  For more of his work visit

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