Peter Jadoonath, Potter
There’s no shortage of activities for a family looking to fill up a free afternoon. Use the river like your compass. When we’re deciding what we want to do with our young girls, we talk about going upstream, heading downstream, crossing the river or exploring the banks… You get the drift!
Public libraries are an overlooked destination for arts inspiration. There are two close to home where we like go. The Taylors Falls Public Library is in a historic building right in the downtown. It used to be a tailor shop, and the woodwork and ornamentation are really interesting to my potter’s eye. My girls like the long, echoey hallways and heavy wooden doors.
Across the river is the St. Croix Falls Public Library, a modern library which hosts a lot of events. My wife and I enjoy the documentary films shown there occasionally. There are kids’ reading events, too. At one event, we discovered the book A Quiet Place, which is about finding peaceful places in the world around you – and inside yourself.
When I want to get away from the kiddos and take a ride, I head to the Woolly Trail mountain bike trail in St. Croix Falls. It’s a 6-mile loop, and a rad fast workout for the body and brain.
Interstate State Park, just south of Taylors Falls, gets me right close up with the river. This is one of my quiet places to get in touch with my surroundings and refocus before embarking on a new artful journey.
When autumn arrives, we’re ready for life to slow down. We’ll head to the Art Bench in St. Croix Falls for a picnic and a walk on the Art Bench Trail. The bench is one of nine along the St. Croix River, created by groups of kids and artists working together. Bring some paper and crayons or charcoal, and do rubbings of the objects embedded in the granite of the bench.
In the winter, life can seem like it’s slowed to a snail’s pace. To stay awake, mentally and physically, I reach out to my buddies. We meet up at Coffee Talk in Taylors Falls, have one of their excellent mochas, and share a laugh.
On the first warm spring day, I grab the family and head straight to Valley Sweets in St. Croix Falls. The first ice cream of the season gets eaten as we walk down to the St. Croix Falls State Fish Hatchery. Thousands of brown and brook trout are reared here, and are swarming so thick, you can’t see the bottom of the tanks. The kids are giddy and we’re all celebrating the end of winter.
We live minutes from Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer. We’re there all the time, in every season and in every kind of weather. Summer, however, is especially excellent for exploring the art park with the kids. The art playground is like something out of a storybook, with its child-sized nooks and crannies, swings, and slides.
The Music @ Franconia summer music series is a nice change of pace for me and my wife, featuring well-known musicians from the area. We pack a picnic blanket and head to the park for an afternoon of art, live music, food trucks and beer.
We’re a pretty laid back family and river life seems to agree with us. There’s a general attitude here of going with the flow and enjoying the journey as much as the final destination.