Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on Minnesota’s rural landscape November 5, 2013

Expansive sky and land inspire the poet in me. Photographed, as are all photos here, along Minnesota State Highway 60 between Faribault and Kenyon.

Expansive sky and land inspire the poet in me.

WHAT DRAWS YOUR EYE in a rural landscape?

Strong lines pull me in, lead me to wonder where that gravel road would take me.

Strong lines pull me in, lead me to wonder, “Where would that rugged gravel road take me?”

Or do you even notice your environment as you travel from point A to point B?

Noticing the geometry in these buildings clustered on a farm site.

I notice the geometry in these buildings, how they cluster and fit together on this farm site.

I challenge you, the next time you drive through rural Minnesota, or rural Anywhere, to truly see your surroundings. Don’t just look with glazed eyes. See. Once you see, you will appreciate.

A sense of history defines this farm in that strong barn which dominates.

A sense of history defines this farm in that strong barn which dominates and in the mishmash roof lines of the farmhouse. Both cause me to reflect upon my rural upbringing, upon my forefathers who settled 150 miles from here on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

History, point in life, memories, even your mood on a given day, will influence how you view the rural landscape, what draws your focus.

I see here trees huddled, protecting and sheltering that house from the elements. My thoughts turn introspective at this scene.

I see trees huddled, protecting and sheltering that house from the elements, from that threatening sky. My thoughts turn introspective as I consider how we are all sometimes vulnerable and huddled, drawn into ourselves.

Whether a writer or photographer, architect or historian, teacher or retiree, stay-at-home mom (or dad), a farmer or someone in between, you will lock onto a setting that inspires creativity or prompts thought or perhaps soothes your soul.

There is much to be said for noticing details, for understanding that the miles between small towns are more than space to be traveled.

FYI: These edited images were photographed nine days ago while traveling along Minnesota State Highway 60 between Faribault and Kenyon. In just that short time, the landscape has evolved with crops harvested, trees stripped of their leaves by strong winds and now, today, snow in the forecast.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling