Favorite Places: Tamarack Nature Center

This is the first in what promises to be a series of posts where I will share locations that have inspired me and my photography. I plan to pepper these stories and reflections of "Favorite Places" once a month throughout the year. 
Today, I'd like to introduce you to Tamarack Nature Center. Every nature photographer needs a place like Tamarack. Located less than fifteen miles from my home in Stillwater MN, I can role out of bed before sunrise, slam a cup of coffee and be at this sweet little spot before I am even awake. Just north of the Twin Cities, this 320 acre preserve lies in the heart of suburbia,... but you would never know it. Pulling into the parking lot, you can see the old oak forest in the distance. As you pass the interpretive/education center, you will be greeted by a small but biologically diverse prairie habitat. Bluestem and side-oat grasses are intermixed with wildflowers like lupine, milkweed, cone flower, bee balm and black-eyed susan. At the fringe of the prairie are tamarack trees with their delicate cones, and a few old and weathered jack pines. 

The prairie gives way to a wildlife viewing platform to the north and a lake to the south. Ringing the park is a boardwalk that includes miles of trails where you can wander through a cattail marsh, oak savanna, and tall-grass prairie. 
Tamarack is a creative outlet for me. Working full time as a teacher, I do not have the flexibility to jump on a plane, or take a road trip on a whim. Nonetheless, I feel the ever-present compulsion to take pictures, document moments, and tell a story.

Having this wild and diverse habitat so close to home has allowed me to experiment with my photography. While at Tamarack, I never feel as if I am missing a "once in a lifetime" shot, as a result, I am free to stretch and exercise my inner creativity. It is my belief that we all need our own little Tamarack... a place to wander, smell the earth, meditate, and live our passions.
I will be doing a talk and slide presentation at Tamarack Nature Center on Thursday September 30, and will exhibit an retrospective of nearly ten years of photography at the preserve from late October through November. If you would like to visit Tamarack Nature Center, please follow this link for directions to the preserve.
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