Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Stop and smell the roses, in Kenyon August 28, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:14 AM
All the sweetness of summer beckons in this peaches-and-cream hued rose along the Boulevard of Roses in Kenyon, Minnesota.

All the sweetness of summer beckons in this peaches-and-cream hued rose along the Boulevard of Roses.

Stop and smell the roses.

Bend close and breathe in the sweet perfume of a rose.

Bend close and breathe in the sweet perfume of a rose.

How many times have you heard that phrase?

Kenyon's Boulevard of Roses cuts through Minnesota Highway 60.

Kenyon's Boulevard of Roses cuts through Minnesota Highway 60.

Well, if you’re traveling through Kenyon in southwestern Goodhue County, then you really ought to heed those words, literally.

Most roses have already reached their peak bloom.

Most roses have passed their peak bloom.

BUT DON’T TARRY. Time truly is passing as rose petals there fade and fall upon the Boulevard of Roses that slices through the heart of this small town. Some 80 rosebushes, by my estimate, grow in the narrow strip of grass between traffic lanes along Minnesota Highway 60, also known as Gunderson Boulevard.

Many times while driving through Kenyon, I’ve admired the four-block-long stretch of roses. But not once, not even once, did I stop to smell the roses. That is, until Sunday afternoon, during Kenyon’s annual Rose Fest.

Festival events had mostly concluded by the time my husband, Randy, and I arrived in town. We stopped at Kenyon Veterans Memorial Park (see my previous post), took in the horse pull at Depot Park, shared an order of scrumptious turtle donuts (mini donuts dripping with caramel and chocolate and sprinkled with nuts) before I suggested that we view the roses.

“Is it safe to walk in the boulevard?” I asked as we exited our car on a side street and vehicles zoomed by on Highway 60.

“There’s not that much traffic,” Randy insisted.

OK, then.

So we crossed the eastbound traffic lane and stepped into the flower zone. Rosebush by rosebush I worked my way down the grassy pathway, pausing to photograph the choicest of the blooms. Most had already passed their peak.

Yet, much beauty awaited us in the arching curves of the petals, in the dreamy colors of peaches-and-cream and buttercup yellow, of bushes weighed heavy by dozens of roses.

And then the scent, the heavenly perfume of roses, breathed in, slowly, deeply. Almost intoxicating, this sweetness consuming my being as I dipped my nostrils close, touching the petals. I couldn’t get enough of this heady stuff, each rose with a distinguishing scent, as unique as their colors.

But just like that, I was snapped out of my reverie by a passing semi truck that sucked at the roses and left me questioning the wisdom of standing so near the traffic lanes.

However, the distraction proved temporary as I resumed smelling the roses, inhaling their sweetness, with each deep breath.

A semi truck passes dangerously close to the rosebushes.

A semi truck passes dangerously close to the rosebushes.

Rosebushes stretch for four blocks along Gunderson Boulevard.

Rosebushes stretch for four blocks along Gunderson Boulevard.

© Copyright 2009 by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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