Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Working the land in Shakopee July 13, 2015

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I AM AN IMPRINT OF THE LAND. Rich, black soil under fingernails. Corn stretching high. Cockleburs between soybean rows. Hoe in hand. Back bent, laboring under the sun as heat waves shimmer across fields. Sweat streaming dirt down my face. Relief in the shade of a cottonwood. Lemonade in a Mason jar.

Earth and sun and sky. Southwestern Minnesota.

 

Working the fields, Shakopee 1

 

Those memories surfaced when I observed a crew working the land in Shakopee late on a Thursday afternoon in July. The juxtaposition of the field to a new housing development struck me. I didn’t know the identities of the laborers or what they were tending, whether they own this land or others do.

 

Working the fields in Shakopee 2

 

But I know this. We share a commonality of connection to the soil. Decades have passed since I detasseled corn, walked beans, hoed the sprawling family garden. Yet, if I look close enough, I see dirt still tracing the creases of my palms.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling