Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

On the road to Fargo, where sky meets land February 20, 2012

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Only 192 miles to Fargo, North Dakota. We've already driven 93.

SKY. That single word defines a road trip from Faribault to Fargo.

Don’t talk miles and time to me. Talk sky.

Once past the St. Cloud exit along Interstate 94, you start noticing the sky, how, the farther west you travel, the larger it becomes until the sheer immensity of that above overwhelms that below.

Sky meets land somewhere westbound along Interstate 94 toward Fargo.

For those who live in the confines of the city, where buildings and masses of streets and highways pull the sky downward and ground it, the vastness of the skies can unsettle the spirit and create a sense of vulnerability. You can’t help but feel exposed under brooding clouds and a sky that stretches into a distance without end.

Interstate 94 sometimes seems to run right into the sky as you drive west.

Yet, for me, a prairie native, there’s a certain sense of calm that comes from traveling into the sky. Because that is what you do when driving west from Minnesota toward the Dakotas. You drive into the sky.

After an initial awareness that you really are incredibly small compared to that above, you begin to notice the details. Or at least I begin to appreciate the details—like the hard edge where sky meets land, the ever-changing skyscape as clouds shift and the day wanes, the nuances in colors and texture that define firmament and field.

Power lines set against the backdrop of the sky provide a visual vertical respite for the eyes.

It is as if you’ve brushed yourself right into a landscape painting.

And I can’t get enough of it, of the strong horizontal lines that sweep across my vision, reconnecting me to my prairie past.

The landscape: flat and into forever near Fargo/Moorhead.

The ever-changing clouds blend with the rural landscape.

As the sun sets, the sky broods.

The sharp contrast of black and white against blue pleases my eyes.

Fence lines and farms slice through the land.

A church spire in the distance draws my eye in this place where my soul reconnects to the prairie.

ALL OF THESE IMAGES were taken with my DSLR camera, set at a fast shutter speed, while traveling along Interstate 94. Check back for more posts from this trip to Fargo.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling