Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, how I love thee, sweet peony May 19, 2010

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THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT PEONIES that enchants me unlike any other flower of spring.

Their intoxicating scent invites me to lean in close and breathe deeply.

They remind me, too, of vintage sepia photographs I’ve seen of brides enfolding peonies gathered from grandmothers’ gardens. These blossoms speak to me of romance and of love.

And they speak to me of the history in this town I’ve called home for 28 years. Beginning in 1927, Faribault was the “Peony Capital of the World,” celebrated with an annual festival and parade. I’ve seen images of floats blanketed with peonies by the hundreds, by the thousands. Long gone are the masses of peonies.

But, oh, how fabulous that must have been, to celebrate the peony, to inhale their sweet perfume wafting through the city streets.

In my backyard, a fern peony bud, April 16

Fern peony bud, April 30

Fern peony bud, May 5

Fern peony in bloom, May 17

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling