Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road to recovery via Minnesota Teen Challenge September 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:41 AM
"I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see."-- Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

"I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see."-- Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

JUSTIN, 24, FORMER HEROIN ADDICT, took the microphone and shared his story of addiction. It was not unlike the previous stories told by recovering addicts who are part of Minnesota Teen Challenge & Adult Programs.

Their addictions had consumed and destroyed their lives, and those of their families.

Yet, it was Justin’s story that most touched me when I heard him and others speak during a Sunday morning worship service at Trinity Lutheran Church in Faribault.

Well-dressed in black dress pants, a white shirt and tie, with closely-cropped hair, he could be the boy next door.

You would never guess that for years, Justin pumped heroin into his veins. Until the day he flipped his car three times and lay in a hospital bed. It was the defining moment in this young man’s life. It was the moment he heard his mother, whom he describes as “a woman of God,” say: “I want my son back.”

And then Justin, who will graduate from the Minnesota Teen Challenge and Adult Programs in a month, sang Amazing Grace. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more heart-felt rendition of this song that speaks to God’s grace and forgiveness.

Tears rimmed my eyes as I thought of Justin’s mother, who wanted only to have her son back. More tears surfaced as 20 others joined Justin in singing “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free.” I could almost see the chains of addiction falling from around the wrists and ankles of these men—some of them in their 20s, some in their 50s and others in between—who had come to share their message at Trinity.

In their faces, in their smiles, in the tears some wiped from their eyes, I could sense the peace that now encompasses their lives. There’s no faking this stuff. These men—these former meth users, these prescription pain medication abusers, these alcoholics, these hurting men, some who attempted suicide, lost their families, lived on the streets, belonged to gangs—seemed deeply sincere.

These are men who, in a shared path to recovery, in a shared faith, now love, hug, pray and care for each other.

They have transitioned to this point by trusting in God, through counseling, attending chapel and classes together, and more at Minnesota Teen Challenge & Adult Programs, one of the largest recovery programs in the state. The faith-based organization has campuses in Minneapolis, Brainerd and Duluth and treats teens through adults, both men and women.

If you ever have the opportunity to hear these individuals speak, do. Their message is incredibly powerful. And if you’re a mom like me, you’ll be profoundly moved by stories like Justin’s that speak to the depth of a mother’s love and to a son’s reclamation of that love.

(For more information, log onto www.mntc.org. The Minnesota Teen Challenge Choir will present a Christmas concert at 7 p.m. Nov. 20 at Grace Church, 9301 Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie.)

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shop locally for Minnesota-grown produce September 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:09 AM
Twiehoff Gardens along St. Paul Road in Faribault offers an abundance of fresh produce.

Twiehoff Gardens along St. Paul Road in Faribault offers an abundance of fresh produce.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT BUYING directly from the grower that appeals to my rural roots. I relish the taste of vegetables grown in Minnesota soil.

And right here in Faribault, we’re blessed to have a terrific Farmers’ Market, apple orchards and Twiehoff Gardens. (See my previous post on Twiehoffs.)

No matter where you live, take time this fall to buy fresh, buy local. Savor the delectable tastes and the visual appeal of just-harvested fruits and vegetables.

And to tempt you, here are some of the offerings at Twiehoff Gardens.

Pumpkin season is just beginning at Twiehoffs. By late fall, wagons will brim with all sizes and shapes of pumpkins.

Pumpkin season is just beginning at Twiehoffs. By late fall, wagons will brim with all sizes of pumpkins.

While sweet corn season is about over at Twiehoffs, it's a hot summer commodity.

While sweet corn season is about over at Twiehoffs, corn is typically a hot summertime commodity.

Twiehoffs Gardens sells Winona-based Watkins products.

Twiehoff Gardens sells spices and other products from Winona, Minnesota- based Watkins.

Fresh red potatoes are popular with shoppers.

Fresh red potatoes are popular with shoppers.

Jalapenos, with an "h" or a "j," who cares, are ripe for the picking.

Jalapenos, with an "h" or a "j," who cares, are available.

A white board lists produce available at Twiehoffs.

A white board lists produce in stock at Twiehoff Gardens in Faribault.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Pedestrian-stopping dahlias in Faribault September 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 3:14 PM

Yellow dahlia

Lavender dahliaSEVERAL YEARS AGO my friend Steve gave me some dahlia tubers.

I looked at the ugly, dried pieces of root and wondered if he was crazy. How could something so drab transform into a beautiful flower?

Steve assured me that would happen and even pointed to the tiniest of sprouts emerging from the tubers.

Well, he’s made a believer out of me.

Into my third year of growing dahlias, I am already passionate about this prolific plant that produces pedestrian-stopping blossoms. Seriously. Last year a guy paused to photograph a saucer plate-sized red dahlia with his cell phone. Granted, he was from China, so in reality he was a tourist, but still…

I’ve received numerous other comments about my beautiful flowers.

Like those many admirers, I am simply smitten by the showy dahlias. Not only do they fill my yard with color, but my house too. These make great, long-lasting cut flowers.

That’s why I need to tour my friend Steve’s dahlia patch soon. When I visited his spacious dahlia garden last autumn, he sent me home with armfuls of dahlias.

There’s something simply romantic and delightful and inspiring and wonderful about a house overflowing with dahlia bouquets.

Purple & white dahlia

White dahlia

Purple tinged dahlia

Red dahlia

Sunny dahlia

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Bemidji: beyond Paul Bunyan September 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:57 AM

I NEVER EXPECTED this of Bemidji.

The northern Minnesota community that we southern Minnesotans peg as the place to have our photos taken with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox extends way beyond these legendary icons.

This town embraces the arts.

A simple walk through the historic downtown clearly shows just how much Bemidji loves the arts, both visual and performing. Join me on this brief tour into the heart of Paul Bunyan’s hometown and see what I saw.

Art. Everywhere. Just waiting to be discovered.

"Sovereign Son"

Minneapolis artist Nickolas Legeros created this bronze sculpture, “Sovereign Son,” now on display at the corner of Sixth St. N.W. and Minnesota Ave. N.W. and part of the 2008 Bemidji Sculpture Walk.

"Garden of Harmony"

Mary T. Peterson and community painted “Garden of Harmony” on Harmony Foods along Third St. N.W., one of many murals in Bemidji.

Beltrami County Courthouse

The 1903 Beltrami County Courthouse is built in the Beaux arts style and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Headwaters mailbox

Bemidji artist Al Belleveau created this whimsical and functional artwork/mailbox for The Headwaters School of Music & the Arts, a community school for the arts in downtown Bemidji.

Paul Bunyan Playhouse

The Paul Bunyan Playhouse, the nation’s longest continually-running summer theater group, performs in the historic Chief Theatre.

Paula Swenson's mural

Paula Swenson’s mural on Wild Hare Bistro & Coffee House is titled “Circles Fall Together II.”

(Be sure to read my earlier post about the Bemidji Sculpture Walk.)

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Tractors & a whole lot more at the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines show September 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:26 AM
The "long green line" stretches across the field.

The "long green line" stretches across the field.

A restored 1921 Advance Rumely steam engine.

A restored 1921 Advance Rumely steam engine debuts at the show.

IF YOU KNOW John Deere tractors, then you know they are yellow and green and are part of “the long green line.” A leaping deer further distinguishes the company. And in earlier days, so did the distinct putt-putt of John Deere tractors.

Now imagine rows and rows of old John Deere tractors, a long green line per se. That would be the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines, Inc., annual show held recently near Dundas. Each year the group features a different brand and in 2009, it was John Deere.

That’s not to say that only Deere equipment was allowed on the grounds. Heavens, no. But the yellow and green machines dominated the Minneapolis Molines, Fords, Farmalls, Olivers and more.

An event like this, though, involves so much more than tractors. It is about “preserving a bit of yesterday for tomorrow,” according to the Rice County organization’s motto.

From the blacksmith pounding on red-hot metal to the old steam engine rumbling down the gravel road to the horses pulling a wagon, this show truly exemplifies many facets of rural history.

So, settle back and view this sampling of photos from my visit to the Rice County Steam & Gas Engines, Inc., show.

Be sure to check out my previous posts and watch for at least one more blog focusing on yet another facet of this event.

At work in the blacksmith shop, shaping metal.

At work in the blacksmith shop, shaping metal.

John Deeres: old and older

John Deeres: old and older

A close-up image of the Cyclone name on a piece of equipment, a brand unknown to me until the show.

A close-up image of the Cyclone name on a piece of equipment, a brand unknown to me until the show.

Two types of horse power.

Two types of horse power.

An on-site windmill adds authenticity to the showgrounds.

An on-site windmill adds authenticity to the showgrounds.

An old John Deere combine.

An old John Deere combine. I remember these.

I learned to drive tractor on a B Farmall.

I learned to drive tractor on a B Farmall.

Corn bundles piled on a wagon.

Corn bundles piled on a wagon.

Flags were a common sight at the show.

Flags were a common sight on tractors at the show.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

No bones about it, I like these new Faribault health care centers September 16, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 12:13 PM
Look at this freebie pen I picked up at the Orhtopaedic & Fracture Clinic. I also got can coolers, a magnet, oval pill box, grip strengthener AND a free ice cream sandwich.

Look at this freebie pen I picked up at the Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic. I also got can coolers, a magnet, oval pill box, grip strengthener AND a free ice cream sandwich during the open houses in Faribault.

SOMETIMES I THINK people in my community take local health care for granted.

Don’t they understand, I often wonder, how fortunate we are to have such a wide range of outstanding medical care right here in our backyard?

Take it from someone who didn’t always have immediate health care available. I mean as in blocks, or a few miles, away. Even today the distance to a clinic and hospital from my hometown of Vesta in southwestern Minnesota spans about 20 miles.

Vesta once had a doctor. Old Doc Pete. Penicillin Pete, they called him. I remember him. He stitched up my head once, gave me some red stuff to swab on my ankle when I was stung by a zillion wasps, once plucked a pebble from my sister’s nostril.

But then Dr. Peterson (or was it Pederson) retired or died, I don’t remember which, and we had to travel to Redwood Falls to see the doctor.

Today I live in Faribault, where I can reach a clinic or hospital in mere minutes. For that I am thankful, extremely thankful.

Last night my husband and I checked out the latest in the Faribault medical scene—a new surgery center at District One Hospital and the new headquarters for Rehab One and The Orthopaedic & Fracture Clinic.

It was only 15 months ago that I underwent total right hip replacement surgery at District One. I’ve had several other surgeries there through the years. So I was interested in touring these facilities during their open houses. I was impressed.

At the ortho and rehab center, I most appreciated that everything is now on one main level. No elevators. No stairs. Easy access, plain and simple. That’s important when your mobility is limited. I know.

Down the road, the new surgery center now has its own entrance. No more walking through the hospital’s emergency entrance to get to the surgery wing. That’s a very good thing.

As I stood outside the former orthopaedic building housed in the historic Seabury Divinity School, I was thankful for one more change: No bats. That’s right. The driver who shuttled us on a golf cart during the open houses said he’d heard stories about bats inside the facility. Although I’d never seen one during my many appointments there, I welcomed the news.

Now, if I win the door prize drawing for a free surgery…

Just kidding.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Wanted: One big bad wolf

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:31 AM
We removed a piece of sheetrock to access the chimney in an upstairs bedroom. One project leads to another as we'll need to patch the floor replace the wall and repaint the room

We removed a piece of sheetrock to access the chimney in an upstairs bedroom. One project leads to another as we'll need to fix the floor and wall and repaint the room.

He huffed and he puffed, and he blew the house in.

Remember that very scary part of The Three Little Pigs story?

The wolf blew down the houses made of straw and of sticks. But he could not destroy the sturdy brick house.

That’s too bad because, if he could, I would hire the strong-winded wolf right now, today.

Not to blow down a brick house, but to demolish a brick chimney.

On Saturday we started one of those house projects which, now, in hindsight, seems perhaps a bit foolish. For years we have talked about removing the old brick chimney that runs through the attic, an upstairs bedroom, through the kitchen and down to the basement floor.

The portion that stuck above the roof was removed during a previous reshingling project. It was then that the thought of totally dismantling the useless chimney first surfaced.

Now talk has become reality as we embark on the purchase of a new heating and cooling system. Plans are to run additional ducts through the former chimney area to the upstairs bedrooms. So much for my idea to add closet space there. The duct plan makes sense, in theory.

But theory is not tearing down walls to access the chimney. Theory is not slamming a hammer or wedging a pry bar between cemented bricks that have been in place since 1940. Theory is not carrying five-gallon buckets of bricks down the stairs, through the house and outside to two piles on the driveway. Theory is not a sore hip and a sore back and sore leg muscles and sore arms.

What were we thinking?

About five hours into the project and half way done, I am questioning the sensibility of this idea.

But then I remember the furnace guy’s response when I called to schedule a home visit. He’s been here before, tuning our 1960s vintage furnace. At first he didn’t remember me. But when I gave him our address, he said, “Oh, you have that old furnace.”

Yup, that would be us.

And then, after inspecting the aging furnace again and suggesting more ducts, he asked, “Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?”

Yup, we do.

Do you have a wolf for hire?

Two brick piles, one for fill, the other to recycle, are accumulating on our driveway. Anyone want brick?

Two brick piles, one for fill, the other to recycle, are accumulating on our driveway. Anyone want bricks?

My son and I aren't brick layers, but we're trying to keep some order as we stack bricks on the driveway.

My son and I aren't brick layers, but we're trying to keep some order as we stack bricks on the driveway.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

What about this Hermann the German in New Ulm? September 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:23 AM
Hermann the German towers above the trees in New Ulm.

Hermann the German towers above the trees in New Ulm.

Ten 25-foot pillars add architectural beauty and support to New Ulm's Hermann Monument.

Ten 25-foot pillars add architectural interest and support to New Ulm's Hermann Monument.

BACK IN THE DAY, when I was a kid, we traveled to New Ulm for the Bode family reunion at Hermann Heights Park.

That was the park on top of the hill, where Hermann the German stood, ruling over the town with his mighty sword. Of those reunion days, I remember a lot of Bodes, food that was plentiful and good, lots of trees, and that towering Hermann statue.

I didn’t exactly like heights back then and still don’t, so even the park name triggered minor anxiety. Spotting Hermann as we entered the park only added to my tension. I knew I would be expected to climb up to the statue. But I knew that even if I tried, I would never accomplish the feat.

Now, let’s fast forward to this past July when I revisited Hermann Heights Park for the first time in decades. Even though I travel through New Ulm often on U.S. Highway 14, I usually don’t detour up the hill to the park. But I needed photos.

So you would think that after all these years, I could brave up and climb the spiral staircase leading to the feet of Hermann. Uh, uh. That wasn’t going to happen. I stayed with my native prairie feet rooted in the ground while my husband and son ascended toward the heavens. They reported later that when they reached the feet of Hermann and looked up, they could see him swaying in the wind.

I suppose I could try again this weekend to climb the monument. New Ulm celebrates the 2000th anniversary of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, a battle led by the legendary German warrior Hermann. He and his warriors successfully defeated the Roman legions, halting their advancement into what later became modern-day Europe. Saturday’s events include a battle re-enactment.

For a complete list of activities for the September 17 – 20 celebration held at several New Ulm locations, go to http://hermannmonument.com

The website features lots of facts about Hermann and the monument. For example, I had no idea Hermann has been standing in New Ulm since 1897 after being stored in a shed for two years. He measures 32 feet from toe to sword tip. And from the monument base to the sword tip, there are 102 feet. That’s about 90 feet higher than I will climb.

This guy’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.

And those lions I couldn’t recall at the base of the sculpture? No wonder I couldn’t remember. They were imported from China and installed in 2001.

I found one other interesting fact. When the Hermann Monument was dedicated 112 years ago, a special beer, Hermann’s Brau, was brewed for the occasion. Well, it’s back in a limited edition thanks to August Schell Brewing Company.

If you’ve never seen Hermann the German, the upcoming celebration would be a great opportunity to learn about an important part of New Ulm’s culture and history. And if you’re brave enough, you can wind your way up the monument’s narrow spiral staircase for a beautiful view (from what I’ve been told) of the Minnesota River valley.

Decorative lions were added to the monument in 2001.

Decorative lions were added to the monument in 2001.

An arch and wrought iron fencing along the stairway add to the artistic beauty of the monument.

An arch and wrought iron fencing along the stairway add to the artistic beauty of the monument.

It's a long ways from the statue base to the top for this writer.

It's a long ways from the statue base to the top for this writer.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Cowgirls, cowboys and cows, all at The Defeat of Jesse James Days parade in Northfield, Minn. September 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:50 AM
I shot this image of the James-Younger gang riding their horses along the parade route. Because my shutter speed wasn't set fast enough for the action, the photo is a bit blurry. But I like it that way.

I shot this image of the James-Younger gang riding along the parade route. Because my shutter speed wasn't set fast enough for the action, the photo is blurry. But I like it that way because it looks more dramatic.

Members of the St. Paul bouncing team entertained parade watchers when a member bounced off a blanket.

Members of the St. Paul Bouncing Team entertain parade watchers.

AFTER MORE THAN 1 ½ hours of baking in the scorching sun, we grabbed our single-serving packages of Malt-O-Meal cereal, folded our lawn chairs, admitted defeat and fled Northfield.

And we weren’t the first. At 2 p.m. on September 7, 1876, the James-Younger gang rode into Northfield intent on robbing the First National Bank. They too left defeated, with two of the outlaws lying dead in the street and two more wounded.

Sunday at 2 p.m. we watched as actors depicting the notorious outlaws stormed down Northfield’s Division Street, guns blazing, during The Defeat of Jesse James Days parade.

They were followed by actors and actresses posing as townspeople, those Northfield residents who 133 years earlier fought back against the desperadoes. Each year those heroes, including bank employee Joseph Lee Heywood who was shot when he refused to open the bank vault, are honored.

It had been several years since my family attended the Northfield parade. So on Sunday my husband, son and I packed a picnic lunch, which we ate behind the NAPA store where Randy works, only a half-block from the parade route. Then we settled into our lawn chairs, in the blazing afternoon sun, to await the start of the 134-unit parade.

The Defeat of Jesse James Days parade is unlike any I’ve ever seen. Beginning with those costumed, horse-riding outlaws, horses and cowboys/cowgirls quickly became the theme of the event.

Never have I seen so many queens and princesses (and the occasional prince) from so many Minnesota communities in one location, all sporting cowgirl (cowboy) hats and all riding on floats decorated with horses. The northeast Minneapolis royalty brought stick horses. Promoters of Isanti Rodeo Jubliee Days rode oversized wooden rocking horses. The Albertville float carried plush toy ponies.

Some rode into town aiming bubble-shooting pistols and twirling lassoes. The St. Francis float locked Jesse James and another outlaw behind bars. But they all arrived with their royal waves, arms swaying, most times in unison, at the crowd.

While the majority of the parade featured Minnesota royalty, plenty of other units provided crowd-pleasing entertainment like the Zuhran Drum Corps from Minneapolis, the St. Paul Bouncing Team, Faribault’s Fair-Bow-Si-Do square dancers, the Saint Paul Clown Club, the Coon Rapids High School marching band and lots more.

There were even cow floats in this community with the slogan of “Cows, Colleges and Contentment.”

And somewhere in between all of these units, a cereal-bearing Malt-O-Meal semi arrived. Yes, free cereal. My family got two packages of Frosted Flakes, one of Honey Nut Scooters and another of Cinnamon Toasters. That’s better than candy.

But given the heat of the day, I was hoping Northfield beer distributor College City Beverage would show up with free beer.

Don’t laugh. While driving through central Minnesota many, many years ago, we came upon a parade in Morrill where they were giving away free beer, straight from a keg perched atop a float.

Now if we had gotten free beer in Northfield on Sunday, we may have stayed until the end of the parade instead of admitting defeat, giving in to the heat and fleeing south to Faribault.

Richfield promoted its Fourth of July celebration with a patriotic, western-themed float.

Richfield promotes its Fourth of July celebration with a patriotic, western-themed float.

I couldn't even tell you the origin of this royalty, but I liked the contrast of the blue sky as they waved from high atop their float.

I like the serenity of the blue sky as the Miss Princeton women wave from high atop their float.

I never planned or manipulated this image, but was humorously surprised to see that I had shot a two-faced cow, the Kwik Trip cow, in Northfield, the city of "Cows, Colleges and Contentment."

I never planned or manipulated this image, but was humorously surprised to see that I had shot a two-faced cow, the Kwik Trip cow, in Northfield, the city of "Cows, Colleges and Contentment." I don't think I could have planned this quirky photo if I had tried.

The northeast Minneapolis contingent arrived with stick horses.

The northeast Minneapolis contingent arrived with stick horses on their float.

Even this marching band, and I don't know where they came from, wore cowboy hats.

Even this marching band, and I don't know where they came from, wore cowboy hats, fitting the day's theme.

Plush ponies decorated the Albertville float.

Plush ponies decorated the Albertville float.

This member of the Saint Paul Clown Club shows off for my camera.

This member of the Saint Paul Clown Club shows off for my camera during The Defeat of Jesse James Day parade.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Amber sees President Obama in Minneapolis September 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:53 PM
My daughter was "this close" to President Barack Obama during his Target Center rally in Minneapolis on Saturday afternoon.

Getting close to President Barack Obama during his Target Center rally in Minneapolis.

Amber, with her ticket to see the President.

Amber, with her ticket to see President Barack Obama at the Target Center.

AT ONE POINT, only five feet separated my oldest daughter, Amber, and President Barack Obama on Saturday.

She was among the estimated 15,000 gathered at the Target Center in Minneapolis for Obama’s whirlwind stop to promote his health care reform package.

I expect that at age 23, Amber wasn’t all that focused on the message, but on the speaker.

And who wouldn’t be thrilled to get that close to Obama? He’s the President, the most powerful man in the world, and simply being personally in his presence has to impress.

When Amber boarded the city bus in her south Minneapolis neighborhood around 9 a.m. Saturday for the ride downtown, I ‘m sure she wasn’t expecting to be seated on the bleachers behind the President. But a select group of ticket holders that included Amber and her friend Julie were red-stamped for spots on the bleachers.

They were handed mini-American flags, told to smile and also informed that their behavior would set the audience tone for the event.

Those instructions rankled me a bit, but I suppose if I was organizing the event, I would try to control crowd behavior too. Based on television news coverage, rally organizers got exactly what they wanted—a friendly reception from the Target Center crowd.

As hard as I looked for my daughter in the bleacher crowd, I never did spot her while watching television news coverage. But she was sitting there, behind and to the right of the President about half way up the bleachers.

Seated in the bleachers behind the President, Amber had a great view of Obama and the crowd.

Seated in the bleachers behind the President, Amber had a great view of Obama and the crowd.

The Presidential wave.

The Presidential wave.

Of all the photos Amber e-mailed to me, this is perhaps my favorite. The President. The American flag.Whatever your political persuasion, this image inspires.

Of all the photos Amber e-mailed to me, this is my favorite. The President. The American flag. Whatever your political persuasion, this image inspires.

The President working the crowd.

The President working the crowd.

President Barack Obama gets close to the crowd.

President Obama gets close to the people.

© Copyright 2009 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photos courtesy of my daughter, Amber