Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Rural Minnesota, the place of my heart February 27, 2013

Montgomery, Minnesota, on a Sunday afternoon.

Montgomery, Minnesota, on a Sunday afternoon. That’s the Cannon Valley Co-op over the hill and to the right.

I NEVER TIRE of these snippets of small town life—the instant my eye catches a scene or a setting or a detail.

At the Mobil station in Medford on a Saturday afternoon.

At the Mobil station in Medford on a Saturday afternoon.

In those moments my heart sings with thankfulness that I live in a relatively rural region.

No need for bike racks in Montgomery.

Just drop the bike in downtown Montgomery.

While rural does not equate utopia or a life any less troubled or any more joyful than city life, this land is where I belong.

Just off Minnesota Highway 99 along a curve on Minnesota 21 heading toward Montgomery.

Just off Minnesota Highway 99 along a curve on Minnesota 21 heading toward Montgomery.

Growing up, I felt more comfortable inside a dairy barn than inside my pink-walled bedroom.

Along the same highway...

Along the same highway…

My connection to barns lingers as I’m drawn to photograph these disappearing rural landmarks.

Utility poles break the horizontal landscape along Minnesota 21.

Utility poles break the horizontal landscape along Minnesota 21.

My eyes link with lines, always the lines.

Ready to plow snow in Montgomery.

Ready to plow snow in Montgomery.

I am not a big city lights, traffic jams, hurry here, hurry there kind of girl.

Minnesota State Highway 21 between Shieldsville and Montgomery.

Minnesota State Highway 21 between Shieldsville and Montgomery.

I am a country dark, tractor in the field, meandering Sunday afternoon drive kind of girl.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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14 Responses to “Rural Minnesota, the place of my heart”

  1. Mark Ritchie Says:

    Thank you for this beautiful, powerful reminder!

  2. Erin Says:

    Great pictures, Audrey! I love to capture rural MN as well! I remember growing up in Browns Valley and we often would go on a Sunday afternoon drive to kill time. What I remember most is DQ sundaes in baseball helmets and listening to Twins ball on the radio. Now, my husband and I do this with our children. We like to take the river road north and it usually results in DQ sundaes, although not served in those memorable baseball helmets. Thanks for sharing your love of MN!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Erin, thanks for sharing your memories of Sunday afternoon drives. I especially like that you are carrying on this same tradition with your children, showing them the beauty of the state, teaching them the importance of Sunday afternoon drives (which are so great for the soul and family) and even that stop at DQ.

      Growing up, our Sunday afternoon drives were centered around driving the back country roads looking at the crops. No ice cream treats for us.

      In recent years, my husband and I started doing these Sunday afternoon drives. And what discoveries we’ve made, many of them which I showcase here. There is just so much to see if we only take the time to visit small towns, take back country roads, etc. Slow down would be the key words here.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Growing up on the East Side of St. Paul (when there were still alfalfa fields just beginning to be broken into suburban lots) we would take Sunday afternoon drives….every Sunday! My dad would always head out into the surrounding rural areas and we would experience the quiet farms passing by as we traveled the very narrow 2-lanes. The finale would always be an ice cream cone at some roadside, family run, stand. Never allowed to eat in the car (it was a “company car”) we would sit at rustic picnic tables under huge oak trees, listening to the birds and, maybe, a lone tractor in the distance. So lovely. I am so thankful that there are those who prefer the intown, ‘warehouse’ apt. living ‘cuz our rural landscape would definitely be much more populated if it weren’t for these urban dwellers!!!! Dreamily yours, D

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Lovely memories…and totally agree with you that it’s a good thing we don’t all like the same physical environments.

  4. Great Captures – thanks for sharing! Happy Hump Day:)

  5. I love the one with the utility poles against the snow. There is something about those that makes me happy and wistful all at once. I’ve never been able to articulate that feeling exactly, but that photo is very close. Thanks for sharing these images with us.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You and I think along the same lines with those utility poles. There’s something haunting, something surreal, something infinite about seeing these stretch into forever through the landscape.

  6. Jackie Says:

    We have sooooo many of the same likes, and photo’s subjects! It really does sadden me that someday the old barns will no longer stand, they’ve been replaced with the metal pole shed’s, which have no character whatsoever. After all it’s all about Character right? 🙂
    Loved the photo’s…as always 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thanks, Jackie. I don’t even want to consider what the rural landscape will look like in a few decades with so many barns falling into crumbling heaps. But then I see the barns which have been lovingly restored and I have hope.

  7. These images are very like what I see here in northern Illinois. Very nice!


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