Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Guilty of escaping a Minnesota winter: In the conservatory with the camera… March 4, 2014

Photographing the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in the cold Sunday afternoon.

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in St. Paul on Sunday afternoon.

“SHE’S CRAZY,” the woman remarked to her companion, not realizing I overheard her as I photographed the exterior of the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.

I wasn't the only one racing from vehicle to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory minus a coat.

I wasn’t the only one racing from vehicle to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory minus a winter coat.

The outdoor air temp hovered around five degrees Fahrenheit. Add in the windchill and the “feels like” temp likely plummeted to minus 25 degrees. And I was coatless.

Was I crazy? Perhaps. But stir craziness marked precisely the reason I came here on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the second day of March with my husband, eldest daughter and son-in-law. I needed a respite from the coldest Minnesota winter in 35 years. And I might add a particularly snowy one.

Looking up at the palm trees.

Looking up at the palm trees.

For a snippet of an afternoon, I pretended I was in the tropics, in a land of lush greenery and flowing rivers and blooming flowers.

Temps were downright hot inside the Conservatory, the reason I left my coat in the car.

Temps were downright hot inside the North Garden, the reason I left my coat in the car.

Not difficult to imagine in the 80-degree warmth of the North Garden,

I tucked my Canon inside my camera bag before entering the humid/misty Fern Room.

I tucked my Canon inside my camera bag before entering the humid/misty/foggy Fern Room.

in the smothering humidity of the Fern Room

Lilies and other flowers perfumed the Sunken Garden.

Lilies and other flowers perfumed the Sunken Garden.

or in the Sunken Garden scented by the blossoms of blooming flowers.

Lines of people streamed through the Sunken Garden, by far the most crowded space.

Lines of people streamed through the Sunken Garden, by far the most crowded space.

This was exactly what I needed, as did hundreds of others. Conservatory paths were packed with people meandering through the gardens, pausing to photograph flowers and/or simply basking in the warmth and beauty.

I can't recall the name of this flower, but I paused to photograph it because I like its shape and sheen.

I can’t recall the name of this flower, but I paused to photograph it because I like its shape and sheen.

Crowded conditions were not conducive to creative photography as I had to move along lest I hold up others. But I managed.

An artist sketching in the Sunken Garden flipped his sketchbook back to reveal his favorite sketch of the day, that of a bonsai tree. His art is spectacular.

An artist sketching in the Sunken Garden flipped his sketchbook back to reveal his favorite sketch of the day, that of a bonsai tree. His art is spectacular. My apologies for failing to ask his name.

Metro Sketchers, artists who monthly gather to create art at a chosen location, recorded the scenes unfolding before them.

Thomas Winterstein of St. Paul sketches a scene in the Palm Dome.

Thomas Winterstein of St. Paul sketches a scene in the Palm Dome.

I chatted with a few,

Thomas Winterstein's sketch.

Thomas Winterstein’s sketch.

admired their art and their ability to create with paint and pencils and other mediums.

Watercolor artist Kathleen Richert paints a fountain in the Palm Dome.

Watercolor artist Kathleen Richert paints a fountain scene in the Palm Dome.

I wondered, too, if my California native son-in-law was at all impressed. After all, palm trees and other warm climate plants certainly aren’t foreign to him.

I have no idea what plant this is, but I love the leaves.

I have no idea what plant this is, but I love the leaves.

To this Minnesotan, though, the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul proved impressive and mentally uplifting in this longest and coldest of Minnesota winters.

Even though you're not supposed to snap posed portraits, I managed to take a quick shot of my daughter and her husband in the Palm Dome.

I managed a quick shot of my daughter and her husband in the Palm Dome, even though portraits are banned.

FYI: Just for the record, I left my coat in the daughter’s car as I did not want to carry it around in the Conservatory while also juggling a camera. The daughter was kind enough to drop Mom and Dad off at the sidewalk leading to the Conservatory. She and her husband then circled the parking areas for an incredibly long time before squeezing into a tight parking space. I’d advise driving a small vehicle here and not attempting to park in the unplowed gravel lot where vehicles were getting stuck.

Check back for more photos.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

31 Responses to “Guilty of escaping a Minnesota winter: In the conservatory with the camera…”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    The outdoor shot is GORGEOUS!!!! The epitome of Victorian splendor!!!! I can almost smell the glorious “perfumey beautiousness” of your end-of-winter ‘walk-about’. Thank you so much for taking us along!!!!! Hugs…………………

  2. cecilia Says:

    What a perfectly wonderful place for a crazy lady to be! Oh the warmth.. c

  3. Thanks for a taste of warmer weather this morning. It was much needed after the cold trek to the school this AM. Enjoying some much needed Mommy & coffee time this AM while catching up on blog reading. Here’s to some warmer weather.

  4. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    A lovely place. I tried to take some photos there a couple of years ago and my lens fogged up too much to get decent photos. I must have been in the fern room! Your pictures are, as always, wonderful.

    • It helped that my camera was in a bag and warm, rather than cold, when I entered the Conservatory.

      There were people taking photos in the Fern Room. But I was concerned about my camera getting moisture in/on it, thus I opted to keep it stowed away. I thought the shot with the doors open to the Fern Room an effective way of showing the humidity.

      I’d like to return on a day when the conservatory is less busy. I could have gotten so many other shots.

  5. Mike Fisk Says:

    When the kids were younger we would go to the Conservatory just to escape the cold and enjoy the beauty. Now that they are older with school and work, it’s harder but these pictures bring back some great memories. And you aren’t crazy, you are a northerner. 🙂 I think that’s different.

  6. Dan Traun Says:

    You are not crazy at all – you are such a rebel though – portraits in the conservatory! Good for you 🙂 It is a great place to shoot plants and people.

  7. Beth Ann Says:

    That character Audrey really took some great shots in the conservatory! I loved them all and felt transported for a few minutes. More snow fell here last night but it is sunny and I think the snow that was frozen onto my car from the hotel stay has finally dropped off today as the car sits soaking up the sunshine. At least I hope so. Lovely post, Audrey, and much needed.

  8. Love the arm chair traveling and a touch of beautiful nature – great captures – thanks so much for sharing:) Happy Tuesday!

  9. Jackie Says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you were able to make your trip to the conservatory, the photo’s were lovely, the close-up lily beautiful! I remember being there a LONG time ago for one of the kids field trips. Some day I may need to check this out again.

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    I’m not surprised so many people visit at this time of the year when you all must be so sick and tired of the freezing conditions. I noticed the thermostat was on around 25C. It’s a little warmer than that here today and I’m loving it. I absolutely hate the cold and find Sydney winters miserable! You would probably wander around in shorts and a T-shirt if you visited us during our winter. We whinge a lot about weather here – we have very high expectations and if they sun’s not shining and if we have to reach for a coat we’re complaining! xx

  11. Thread crazy Says:

    Loved the conservatory post…that pinkish-red flower reminds me of the white “peace” lilly bloom. Beautiful and just what we all need these cold days. Yes, spring is coming…yesterday after all the ice melted, I dared to walk around a bit and here dandelions are coming up and blooming! In 18 degree weather, they are still there!

  12. A perfect place to go right now! I’ve been but it was ages ago. Lovely!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s