Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Gravel road on the prairie July 9, 2012

A gravel road just north of Lamberton in southwestern Minnesota.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT a gravel road?

A picturesque farm site on a sultry summer evening as seen from a gravel road north of Lamberton.

It is poetry and peace, country and charm.

You can almost hear the crunch of the gravel in this image.

But it is more. It is small stones crunching under tires and feet as dust rises and lingers, marking the trail traveled.

As the sun sets on the prairie, a truck travels along a gravel road up to a paved roadway north of Lamberton.

It is a marker of townships, the route of massive yellow road graders blading the road surface to a flat finish or heaving snow toward ditches.

It is memories of bumpy school bus rides and squishing into the back seat of the family car between brothers and sisters.

It is Dad’s admonition to always, always, move to the right when cresting a hill.

Utility lines along the same gravel road stretch into forever.

It is the memory of pinpoint stars dotting the pitch black darkness of a prairie night and the sweet scents of wild roses (once) rambling in ditches and of freshly-mown alfalfa and of hay baled and stacked onto a swaying wagon.

A gravel road is all of these to me, and yet, in its most basic definition, it serves as a way to get from point A to point B, and marks borders between town and country.

Standing on the gravel road, I turned south to photograph the cornfield and Lamberton in the distance.

It is a line in a plat book, a route connecting paved roads, a path to a rural home.

It is a gravel road on the prairie.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

13 Responses to “Gravel road on the prairie”

  1. hotlyspiced Says:

    What beautiful images Audrey. I always enjoy seeing photos of your world and the range of seasons is just incredible. xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Charlie. Lamberton is about 2 1/2 hours from my current home in southeastern Minnesota. I grew up about 25 miles to the north and west of Lamberton near the prairie town of Vesta. The landscape around Vesta is even flatter than that shown in these images.

  2. Jackie Says:

    I love traveling on gravel roads, the sound, the dust trailing off behind the car, I love all of that! Gravel roads usually lead to great country settings which is a bribe for my camera and I. Loved your gravel close-up shot 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Exactly the reasons why I enjoy traveling along gravel roads. To get that close-up gravel shot, I placed the camera on the road, angled it up slightly and clicked the shutter button. I’ve been trying a lot of these types of shots lately with results I really like. It beats lying on the ground/floor/what have you.

  3. Allan Landman Says:

    Audrey, you captured the moment again! The corn fields tell a story by looking at them. When I was young, I would go out into the corn field when it was way above my head, and listen to the “stories” they would tell me. The leaves rubbing against each other would create a sound so much like thousands of people talking, but can not understand what they are saying. Yes I have an imagination, but don’t all young farm people? The power lines were so fun to watch as a kid in the back seat of the car. Dad would be driving, and I would be lying down in the seat watching the power lines go by. They would sometimes switch from one side of the road to the other. I also enjoy seeing the large electrical towers, that look like marching men holding the wires. And gravel roads are so American! When our daughter was about 3 or 4, we were driving down a very dusty road which she had not seen before. She was looking out of the back window of the car and a farm dog decided he was up for a chase. As he was running behind us very fast, my daughter said, “look at the smoke coming out of that dog”!!! We still laugh with wonderful memories of that warm Summer day on a gravel road. Now she is 30 years old and Mother to our beautiful Granddaughter. Your pictures set off a 1000 stories in my mind about the wonderful life of a Minnesota farm.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Allan, that “smoke coming out of a dog” line is certainly memorable. It seems your daughter may have inherited your wonderful imagination. Thanks for sharing your memories.

  4. ljhlaura Says:

    Love how your words and images evoke the experience of being on a gravel road. I live in the city, so thanks for reminding me of my family history trip to Iowa last August when I visited some local rural cemeteries and got to spend time on several peaceful gravel roads.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You are welcome. This is exactly what I had hoped to accomplish through this post.

  5. Sara Dammann Kimm Says:

    Oh, home…(sigh). Of course I love these pictures! I believe the gravel road you were on is what we used to call “roller coaster road.” My daughter is in Lamberton this week staying with grandma and grandpa. This afternoon she sent me this text: “We’re touring the ethanol plant. LOL” Yes, I’m jealous. 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The road is just east of the electrical substation (what my siblings and I call “the chickenpox factory” and north of Kuhar Park. I can understand why you would call it the roller coaster road. I know exactly what you mean.

      Tell your daughter I’ve never even toured the ethanol plant and my brother is the CEO. Time to don a hard hat and tour. Only thing, he probably won’t allow me to bring my camera inside and that will be tough for me. We’ll see…

  6. Yep…gotta love a gravel road! In WA we called them dirt roads…I think it’s funny that even such a small name/term would be different around here.


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