Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts on a weekend journey to Fargo and back under grey November skies November 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:52 AM
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Westbound for Fargo on Interstate 94 near the West Union exit on Saturday morning.

NEARLY 10 HOURS in a vehicle traveling almost 600 miles round trip to Fargo, North Dakota, under the gloomiest of grey November skies can test one’s endurance.

The eyes began to wander, to lock onto the slightest patches of color in an otherwise dull and monotone landscape.

Billboards offer a diversion as do the semis which follow Interstate 94, some forking north toward Canada, others continuing even farther west into the endless grey expanse.

A section of the journey where there are still hills. My eyes focus on the brilliant red hue of the barn.

Near Barnesville, a short distance east of Fargo and Moorhead, piles of corn brighten the muted landscape.

Hunters in bright orange roam fields during the opening weekend of firearms deer hunting in Minnesota.

Red barns and piles of golden corn and deer hunters in blaze orange distract me from the barren greyness of this journey to the Red River valley. I wonder at that use of the word “valley,” for I see no indentations in the earth to suggest a valley.

This quaint country church in the distance somewhere east of Fargo/Moorhead always calms my spirits.

I am a prairie native. But even for me, the flat land west of Fergus Falls and into Fargo/Moorhead challenges my spirit. I feel insecure and diminished in this place and that unsettles me.

How can a place seem so flat that I feel as if I will step off the earth should I journey any further than the northwestern fringes of Fargo?

Downtown Fargo late Saturday afternoon under sullen skies with a light mist falling.

More gloomy skies on the return trip from Fargo to Faribault on Sunday afternoon.

Spots of orange (slow moving vehicle signs) provide a respite for my eyes on Sunday’s drive home.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


8 Responses to “Thoughts on a weekend journey to Fargo and back under grey November skies”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    That WAS a gloomy drive. Reminds me of the Ohio skies. I always say I don’t mind being cold if the sun is shining. Fortunately that is more often the case in Iowa—-or else I would REALLY be depressed!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The whole weekend was gloomy and bone-chilling cold. Sunshine, as you say, would have helped immensely. I don’t like this darkness by 5:00 p.m. either. And, yes, skies are grey here in Minnesota again this a.m. On the positive side, we’ve gotten some rain, which we badly need.

  2. Amy Says:

    Well your skies could have been enlightened if you would have come slightly north! Barnesville is our exit! We didn’t realize how flat it really was here until we were traveling from Kansas back home through the Dakotas. We got to a point in South Dakota, just before the North Dakota border, that we were on the top of the hill and when you looked, you could see the expanse across the prairie….all flatlands! No hills, trees all around, seeing for 20 miles in all directions, especially the glowing lights of towns that night. It was certainly a learning experience!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, yes, I think of you every time we head west on I-94. I wondered if the land was as flat around Ada as in Fargo. Apparently the answer is yes.

  3. Last fall when she was four, Lucy and I were reading Horton Hatches an Egg and, looking at the pictures, she said, “They don’t look like hunters. They aren’t wearing orange.” She’s a country kid, eh?! Your hunter photo made me think of that!

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