How to find peace at the International Peace Garden

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The International Peace Garden, situated on the US-Canadian border in the Turtle Mountains (a "mountain" in North Dakota being a generous description), is an apt place to unwind, reflect and practice mindfulness. Here's our guide on how:

1.Wind your way through the floral wonderland. We can't gush enough about the kaleidoscopic beds of colorful blossoms and buds. The park plants over 150,000 flowers each year and was established during the Great Depression to give jobs through the Civilian Conservation Corps. It's humbling to be enveloped by that much beauty.

2. Read sages of the ages in the Peace Chapel. The walls are inscribed with quotes about humanity, peace and justness. While it was admittedly dismaying to note the sore lack of female voices on the walls, it was lovely to read quotes by Gandhi, St. John, Eleanor Roosevelt and more in the soft glow of sun through gold-hued windows.

3. If you camp overnight, be wary of weather reports. We planted ourselves in a 1991 pop-up camper for two nights, and while the days were tolerably windy, at night we had gale-force storms that A) whipped the door open at 3 a.m. and let in a starving cloud of mosquitoes and B) were howling so loudly and forcefully we thought we might wake up in Oz the next morning.

4. Pay homage to the 9-11 Memorial. Wreckage from Ground Zero was brought to the IGP to commemorate those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The design is meant to promote reflection, understanding and forgiveness. It's a simple but profoundly moving place.

5. Relax among the cacti. Aside from vast outdoor flowerbeds, the new Visitor's Center has an extensive, almost otherworldly-looking, indoor cactus garden. Being from the north, we haven't been privy to many of these prickly friends, so it was especially intriguing.

6. Take advantage of  harps and hand bells. The world-renowned International Music Camp, which hosted students from 76 countries last year, is stationed at the IPG. We got to take in a recital of world percussion, harps, hand bells, watercolors and acrylics. Let's not mention nodding off during it thanks to a couple of sleepless nights - see #2.

7. Take a spin through the North American Game Warden Museum, which I wrote about earlier! It houses information about wildlife, lots of confiscated hunting trophies, art, books, memorials and more.

That should do it. A few parting shots from our peace garden camping trip with the North Dakota parents...

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