Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Higher than your knees July 11, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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Into the cornfield and up close.

Into the cornfield and up close.

I CAN ALMOST FEEL the corn leaves slicing across my arms, hear the leaves whispering in the wind, see the stalks growing higher and higher, racing toward the prairie sky on a July afternoon.

Corn and soybean fields define southwestern Minnesota.

Corn and soybean fields define southwestern Minnesota.

These are the memories I hold within my cells—the imprint of corn rows stretching into forever. My father’s work laid out before him across the acres. First, seeds dropped into the rich black soil. Next, corn rows cultivated. And then, in autumn, the combine chomping across fields. Golden kernels spilling into wagons. Trips to the grain elevator.

I see all of that in the corn growing in my native southwestern Minnesota.

Through the wildflowers...

Through the wildflowers…

On July 4, my husband and I waded through tall ditch grass and wildflowers to check out a cornfield near Lamberton. Back in the day, corn growth was measured against the expected “knee high by the Fourth of July” standard.

Not quite reaching my husband's shoulders.

Not quite reaching my husband’s shoulders even though the corn appears head high from this angle.

Unless a farmer has to replant or gets his crop in late, his corn is more like shoulder high by the Fourth in today’s agricultural world.

Corn grows in a field next to one of my favorite barns along U.S. Highway 14 in southwestern Minnesota.

Corn grows in a field next to one of my favorite barns along U.S. Highway 14 in southwestern Minnesota.

This year, though, with late planting and many fields drowned out by too much rain, corn growth appears behind the norm.

Across the fence and across the cornfield, my brother's neighbor's place.

Across the fence and across the cornfield, my brother’s neighbor’s place.

But one thing remains constant, no matter the weather, no matter the year. Farmers hang on to harvest hope.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


26 Responses to “Higher than your knees”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    And isn’t hope a wonderful thing in all things—not just farming?

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    love that ACO silo and barn.

  3. cecilia Says:

    All the corn around here is high too,the Old Codger says they plant much earlier than they used to when he was a farmer, new GM seeds can germinate in colder soil I guess.. it is a wonderful sight to see the fields alive with growth.. c

  4. We have similar views around here these days. I first heard the knee high saying after I moved to the Midwest. If the corn was only knee high by July 4 down south, it would be way behind schedule!

  5. Beautiful Captures – you know me and loving me some GREEN 🙂 Happy Weekend!

  6. “Farmers hang on to harvest hope” – what a lovely way to end this post.

  7. Emily B Says:

    Living in the city now, I don’t get out to the fields nearly as much as I did growing up. This brought me immediately back to my childhood, and back to the long road trips down to Pipestone county where we would visit my grandparents and stop in at Lake Shetek–always a journey bordered on both sides by long and ripe rows of corn. Lovely photographs and commentary, Audrey!

  8. Sue Ready Says:

    The first couple of sentences of your posting sound quite poetic-perhaps a beginning of a poem??

  9. Dennis Litfin Says:

    Audrey………Not on your wonderful topic….but….I to work with a Merle Kletscher, wife Doris, in the Gibbon area and he was from SW Mn. Your relation ?

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    I do hope the farmers have a good harvest. Life is so tough on the land. That certainly is an enormous field of corn xx

  11. Katie Shones Says:

    My father always said farmers are the biggest gamblers in the world.

  12. Thread crazy Says:

    Corn up your way looks beautiful; here, ours is turning brown, crispy brown! I have a small amount in my garden and while I have kept it watered, it now is starting to turn brown due to our 100+ temperatures. Corn in the field now is going to the gins to be processed.

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