Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

It’s in the details March 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Farm site 2

IN A FLASH, I’ve passed the farm site along Minnesota State Highway 60 between Faribault and Kenyon.

But I’ve clicked the shutter button, preserving this rural scene, a moment frozen in time. Many times, for whatever reason, I have photographed this place.

Later, viewing this most recent image on a computer screen, I notice the details that escaped my eyes during that drive-by. And I wonder how, all too often, we miss the details.

Farm site 3

Details comprise the whole, define our lives in ways we never realize. A look. An intonation. A reflex. Puzzle them together and you have life.

A snapshot. An album. A collection of minutes, hours and days that collectively become weeks and months and years. And suddenly you are, like me, past middle age, a generation away from death.

You wonder about the details, whether you’ve noticed and embraced and lived them.

Farm site 1

Have you swung in a tire swing?

Or have you simply viewed tires as a necessity to carry you along the highway of life? Too busy to notice details.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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32 Responses to “It’s in the details”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    I like what you did there – freezing time in photographs – seeing thing many times over and in different ways. It is amazing what you can truly see when you take a moment to look :-)

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    I wonder if today’s “details” are being missed all together because the tendency is to experience life “virtually”, sacrificing personal interaction in favor of a quick “tweet” or safe (somewhat anonymous) comment placed in the correct site ‘field’.How many will stand at life’s exit door knowing that experiencing life virtually is not really living life at all!!!! Hmmmm. Sad.

  3. Jackie Says:

    Photography, holds many details that I believe we miss at a glance, that’s why I appreciate so much the things of our past, like the Old barns, one room school houses and churches. I tend to study them and all their details which leads me to wonder what life must have been like. Beautiful Farmstead Audrey, I never “tire” of viewing this scene.

  4. Tim DeMarce Says:

    There have been two barns I have driven past on Highway 60 west of there, near Elysian. I always say I have to be here closer to sunset and capture that faded red paint on the weathered wood. But then I’m in a hurry to get back to St. Paul after visiting my mother in Mankato and I say, well, another time. There was another barn on the other side of the highway, abandoned, one of those built onto a slope with a dirt and stone berm to the haymow. Same feelings, same indecision. And now that barn has been pulled down.

    • That is an excellent point, Tim, because I’ve done the same thing. Been in a hurry and thought “I’ll photograph that next time.” And then next time never comes.

      I agree there are/were some fabulous barns along Minnesota Highway 60 in the Elysian area. The farm site in this post is located b/n Faribault and Kenyon.

  5. I believe as we age we develop perceptual filters. We cannot really notice everything all the time, so we filter. I suspect that our filters make us see the general first but then the particulars to which we are atuned. For instance a musician hears details in music that I would would not even know are there. We farm kids see things about barns that the non-farm folks cannot see as having any meaning or pattern. I am atuned as an artist to what colors show and how they snow them. In this age and patterns and textures. The limited palette, as a painter would say.
    I would love to do a photo AND pastel essay of the barns of south central MN. Before they are all gone.

    • That’s an insightful comment, Clyde. Thank you. I think you are spot on correct.

      I have a good collection of barn photos started; I am always drawn to photograph them. It’s almost a natural reflex as if I’m returning to my past and all those wonderful years laboring in the barn.

      Your project idea is a good one. We need to preserve these barns in whatever ways we can.

      • I apologize for bad typing. I have been avoiding blogging because of my bad hands, which cause so many errors and embarrassment. Cannot paint at the moment. I now have 5 pain issues with my hands and a bone spur and two bad disks in my neck make my arms very heavy, painful and hard to lift. Not asking for sympathy just explaining errors that will always be there unless I take undue time to reread and read and retype and retype. I have decide to go back into the blogosphere and just be embarrassed.

      • No need to be embarrassed, Clyde. I’m happy to have you back, errors and all. As you may notice, sometimes I correct errors. I’m sorry you have to deal with so many pain issues; chronic pain can be a challenge. I know from experience and am currently dealing with pain issues, too.

  6. My eye was drawn to the round bales on the left and the round tire swing on the right. Then there are the buildings and vehicles. Beautiful Post and Capture:) Happy Tuesday!

  7. Beth Ann Says:

    I think too often we whiz by in our busy lives and just don’t take the time to appreciate the stillness and the beauty in things—these photos are prime examples of moments frozen (literally) in time. Lovely farm.

  8. Dee Bjork Says:

    I saw it Audrey but perhaps it was only because of my love of donuts.

  9. Ted Aaberg Says:

    “A snapshot. An album. A collection of minutes, hours and days that collectively become weeks and months and years. And suddenly you are, like me, past middle age, a generation away from death.”

    Your paragraph is the most beautiful/scariest I have ever read. So fast does the time past, pages turning, getting older, wake up and something on me doesn’t work like it use to; now with the phrase “a generation away from death.” Sobering as that thought is, it has given me resolve to make a very short list of what is very important for me to do with the minutes, hours and days left. For I know as I finish the commentary, I will have a little less time to do them, that is for certain without a doubt.

    My grandpa Olaf when the family came to visit would always put up a tire swing on his back yard oak tree just outside the cow pasture. He would also make sure each of us kids would have a small job to do, mine was to bring in corn cobs for the caste iron stove. :-) :-) It all gave me such a loved, embraced, cared for feeling, all from a man whose hands were as course as sandpaper, but tender as tender could be, to me as soft as a newborns.

    • Ted, I am humbled by the impact my words made on you. I have thought this “generations away from death” for a long time, although in the past there were more generations b/n me and death. Not that I’m afraid of death, because I know that heaven awaits me. But it is, indeed, a sobering reminder to make the best of the days we are given.

      I would have liked your Grandpa Olaf. He was a wise man.

      • Ted Aaberg Says:

        I have faith as well, and embrace my heavenly home, but for some reason have fear, probably more of decline than death. I think I need to develop more of a sense of humor, like Clyde from Kato, saying life on the exit ramp.

      • That makes sense, Ted. I, too, like Clyde’s attitude.

  10. I am thinking of starting a blog called “Life on the Exit Ramp,” as opposed to life in the fast lane. But I am not a generation away from death, much closer than that.

  11. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s the same scene but it’s amazing how varied all these images are. And I love a rope swing! You don’t see enough of them these days as too many people fear being sued! xx


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