Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflections on harvest time in southern Minnesota September 27, 2011

Westbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Nicollet and Courtland in southern Minnesota Friday afternoon.

I LOVE THIS LAND, this rural southern Minnesota.

You can take your woods and your lakes and your boats or your big city freeways and skyscrapers and traffic jams.

I will take sky and a land that stretches flat into forever.

I like my space open, not hemmed in by trees packed tight in a forest. I want to see into forever and beyond, the horizon broken only by the occasional grove hugging a building site.

A farm site between Mankato and Nicollet, as seen from U.S. Highway 14.

A harvested corn field between Nicollet and Courtland.

I want corn and soybean fields ripening to the earthy hues of harvest. Not gray cement or dark woods.

Give me small-town grain elevators and red barns and tractors, and combines sweeping across the earth.

The elevator complex in Morgan in Redwood County.

A farm site along the twisting back county road between New Ulm and Morgan.

A John Deere combine spotted on the highway just outside of Morgan.

This is my land, the place of my heart.

Although I left the farm decades ago, I still yearn, during autumn, to return there—to immerse myself in the sights and smells and sounds of harvest. The scent of drying corn husks. The roar of combines and tractors. The walk across the farm yard on a crisp autumn night under a moon that casts ghost shadows. Wagons brimming with golden kernels of corn. Stubble and black earth, turned by the blades of a plow.

Today I only glimpse the harvest from afar, as a passerby. Remembering.

A farm site between Morgan and Redwood Falls in southwestern Minnesota.

Harvesting corn on Saturday just outside of Courtland.

Chopping corn into silage between New Ulm and Morgan.

ALL OF THESE IMAGES (except the elevator) were taken at highway speed from the passenger side of our family car while traveling through southern Minnesota on Friday and Saturday.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Reflections on harvest time in southern Minnesota”

  1. I LOVE it! You have captured my thoughts and feelings so well. And what a magnificent job of photographing at highway speeds!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Harriet. I am always, honestly, surprised at how well these photos turn out. I set my camera at a fast shutter speed, anticipate, hope the car windows are relatively clean and then click at what I hope is just the right moment. More often than not I manage to get some decent images.

      Glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. dakotagirl Says:

    We were in Nicollet a couple weeks ago and stopped at Schmidt’s Meat Market. Have you ever done a story on them? It’s an awesome place. Just the smell as you walk in the door is enough to make your mouth water.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      No, I’ve never written about Schmidt’s Meat Market, although it is on my list of places to stop. My friend Sue sings praises for this place, especially for the blueberry-wild rice brats and the turn-overs. Likewise, I’ve heard positive comments from many others.

  3. dorothy Says:

    Farm scenes are beautiful. And, oh, so heart warming. Always enjoy a drive through the farm land too. Where I grew up, of course. Brings back all kinds of memories. Dorothy

  4. bevalker Says:

    Makes me homesick and yearn for days of my youth growing up in the rural settings you captured in photos. Thanks!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You can’t take the farm out of the girl…

      So glad I could take you “home” if but for a moment, Bev.

  5. These photos are so beautiful. Thank you. -from Kate, the Sweet Ridge Sister who is far from home in the big city

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