Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Prairie poetry January 7, 2013

Along U.S. Highway 14

Along U.S. Highway 14 between Sleepy Eye and Springfield on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

THOSE WHO CATEGORIZE the southern Minnesota prairie as flat, boring and in the middle of nowhere truly have not seen.

South and west of Waseca, along U.S. Highway 14, a train cuts across the flat farm land.

South and west of Waseca, along U.S. Highway 14, a train cuts across the flat farm land.

Perhaps you are one of them—a traveler passing through this land defined by horizontal lines. Your patience for the endless miles of vast sky and open space expires shortly after you exit the city.

The horizontal lines of railroad tracks and farm buildings define this scene near Janesville along U.S. Highway 14.

The horizontal lines of railroad tracks, utility wires and farm buildings define this scene near Janesville along U.S. Highway 14.

You cannot fathom how anyone can live here, let alone appreciate this landscape.

East of Courtland, rows of bales edge a farm site.

East of Courtland, tidy rows of bales edge a farm site.

But I challenge you, the next time you are hurrying from City A to City B, to look beyond the pavement, beyond the preconceived ideas you have about rural Minnesota and specifically of the prairie.

West of Springfield, a snow fence emphasizes the horizontal lines of the prairie.

West of Springfield, a snow fence emphasizes the horizontal lines of the prairie.

View this landscape as an artist’s canvas. Before your eyes, you will begin to see the bold lines, the wispy strokes, the colors (or lack thereof), the composition of a scene.

The ethanol plant near Janesville on a cold December morning.

The ethanol plant near Janesville on a cold December morning.

You will feel the strength of the artist’s brush in the wind.

One of my favorite barns along U.S. Highway 14, west of Sleepy Eye.

One of my favorite barns along U.S. Highway 14, west of Sleepy Eye.

You will read poetry in the simplicity of the uncluttered landscape and in the fortitude and kindness of those who inhabit this place.

And then, perhaps, you will begin to connect to a land which possesses an infinite beauty unlike any other.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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