The Circle Trail winds from the visitor center through native and restored prairie, along a cliff line of Sioux quartzite and over Pipestone Creek at Winnewissa Falls. Signs noting the presence of poison ivy dot the trail, though many visitors — likely doomed to a long, itchy car ride home — seem to disregard the warnings as they veer off the path.

Just around the bend, one intriguing sign captures a bit more attention: “Climb steps to see the Oracle.”

Ascending the steps provides an expansive view of more quartzite cliffs and oak savannah. Rugged shadows make it difficult to discern what one is looking for. But a few feet away another sign, one with a small hole in the middle, invites you to kneel close, squint one eye and peek through with the other. And there it is.

What the Oracle is saying depends on who you are, where you’re from and what you’re trying to hear.

Do its lips speak of the past? Of a billion years ago when oceans covered Minnesota and layers of sand and mud were deposited, compressed and heated over time to form narrow pipestone beds sandwiched between thick, hard quartzite.

Or perhaps of the present? Where American Indians from across the continent are on a five-year waiting list to break through the quartzite and carefully quarry the revered red stone by hand, continuing an ancient tradition of pipe-making.

Does it speak of the future? Of droughts and floods, feasts and famines, the sowing of seeds and harvesting of crops, of our place in the universe as the planet spins on its axis and circles ’round the sun, perhaps of wars and peace yet to come.

Or is the Oracle just a cold, silent pile of rocks that gives superstitious folk a feeling of connection to something greater than themselves?

It all depends on what you’re trying to hear.