Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

When roads are slick… February 20, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:46 AM
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THE THUNK JARS my focus from the computer screen to office window.

Through the pane, I notice an overhead wire swaying.

My first view of the crash through my living room window.

My first view of the crash through my living room window.

I grab my camera, always at hand, dash to the living room and focus on a vehicle that has taken out the stop sign.

No need for me to rush outside as several motorists stopped.

No need for me to rush outside as several motorists stop.

I don’t know the circumstances of the crash. But the side street past my corner house feeds into an arterial road. The driver may have curved toward the stop sign and power pole to avoid crashing into traffic during the 8 AM rush hour. And, yes, there are morning, after school and after work rush hours.

Streets are slicked with a layer of fresh snow. Only 10 minutes or so prior, a City of Faribault truck sprayed sand onto the roadway. Even so, these things happen, especially when driving downhill.

The driver documents the scene with his cell phone.

The driver documents the crash scene with his cell phone.

Damage to the vehicle’s front appeared substantial from my sideways glimpse through the window.

A Faribault police officer arrives within minutes.

A Faribault police officer arrives within minutes.

Be careful out there, both on sidewalks and roadways.

A City of Faribault worker removed the downed stop sign and replaced it with a temporary one shortly after the police left.

A City of Faribault worker removes the downed stop sign and replaces it with a temporary one.

Allow extra time to stop, especially at icy downhill intersections.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Minnesota Faces: A pastor with prairie roots

Portrait #8: Pastor Gordon


Portrait 8, Pastor Gordon Deuel at Little Prairie


This week, the beginning of Lent and Christ’s journey toward crucifixion, seems an appropriate time to feature a portrait of a pastor.

I met the Rev. Gordon Deuel several summers ago when he was still shepherding Little Prairie United Methodist Church, rural Dundas. He left in June 2013 to become the Elko New Market Campus Pastor for Lakeville-based Crossroads Church.

My introduction to this clergyman happened on a Sunday afternoon when my husband and I stopped at Little Prairie School, a former country school located kitty corner from the Little Prairie church. Pastor Gordon noticed us lingering, walked across the road and unlocked the door into the historic building.

Later, we strolled over to the church and poked around. That’s when I captured this portrait of the preacher in beautiful natural light.

While talking to Rev. Gordon, I learned that he, like me, is a native of southwestern Minnesota. He’s from Hendricks, which is about as close to South Dakota as you can get without being in it. I always feel a special kinship with prairie people. We are rooted deep in the land, appreciative of wide open spaces and big skies, fields and small towns. We don’t dismiss the prairie as the middle of nowhere, as some place to pass through en route to somewhere better. The prairie is home, whether we still live there or not.

With that commonality of place, I connected with Pastor Gordon that Sunday afternoon in August 2012.

Now, 2 ½ years later, after visiting the City of Hendricks website, I understand even more how people and place shaped the pastor. Here’s a snippet of well-crafted writing designed to draw visitors and new residents to this rural community of some 700 folks just a stone’s throw from South Dakota:

The residents of Hendricks have focused on creating a town which is a perfect place for children. Our school district is one of the best in the nation. Our weather is temperate and provides for four seasons of fun. We are well grounded in our past, as we continue to worship in a prairie church which is now on the National Register of Historic Places. We look to better our tomorrow through efforts such as our wind farm and organic farming. We believe you will find the Hendricks, Minnesota, quality of life second to none.

And I expect, as in Lake Wobegon, that “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average” in this “Little Town by the Lake.”


This is part of a series, Minnesota Faces, published every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lake Wobegon quote is from Minnesota writer Garrison Keillor.