Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Banning, Day 4.

Fourth Day here at Banning State Park.

I am now sitting in the Sandstone Public Library after taking a tour of the Audubon Center of the North Woods near Sandstone. The Audubon Center has lots going on including caring for rehabilitated birds including ravens and raptors that have been injured, mostly by being hit by cars believe it or not. On beautiful and quite Grindstone lake, they not only have camp facilities for kids k-12 and meeting and conference centers, they are also an active natural farm and garden, an alternative energy site, and a bird tagging facility in which kids and adults get hands on learning in conservation and other related fields. Kind of a place to go to generally find out how all these things, conservation of forests and habitat as well as energy are all completely connected and our encroachment on animal habitats have real and visible consequences. I saw a few of the animals they cared for and was simultaneously struck at how incredible it was to see a bald eagle up close but how sad also that this bird would not be able to live again in the wild due to its injuries.

I am reading now on the history of Sandstone and the quarry mine that was built here as well as at Banning state park. Banning was an active quarry mine until about 1915 and sandstone until the mid 40's. It is really interesting to see pictures of what the area looked like before and after the quarry both from a geological standpoint and from a social standpoint. Sandstone was once a thriving city which was once predicted to be the largest city between Duluth and Minneapolis. The sandstone that came from the mines built many of the oldest standing buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as other buildings across Minnesota and the Nation. A vast railroad network exists here and freight trains pass through during the night at quite high frequency. It is interesting that the sound of the freight trains is not so present from the Quarry Loop Trail Itself. It is also interesting that the very material the rails were designed to transport out of here is the reason the quarry loop trail exists in the first place. While I have been designing the song path at the Quarry Loop, the concept of the whole space being half forged by nature (the river), and half forged by man (miners)has been in the back of my mind. I have mostly decided to let the park speak for itself as it seems the most interesting details are those that are subtly revealed when you get really close to them and away from the ever present river. However, it seems to make sense to have a human interaction near the stone cutting building and the powerhouse which are clear symbols of the way in which the whole space was created. But in the end, the trail ends where it begins. With the river, the wind, and the birds. Just like it was before the quarry was mined.

I meet again with my good friend Chris Chelgren this evening to experiment with drums and rocks in the powerhouse and along the banks of the river. More human interaction. Which will be welcome even though I have greatly enjoyed the solitude of the last 4 days. Just what a composer is always looking for.

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