Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Working the land in Shakopee July 13, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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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

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27 Responses to “Working the land in Shakopee”

  1. Dan Traun Says:

    I see similar visions along Hwy 52 on my way to and from work. It is impressive to look upon the massive gardens that are being tended for what I assume is for farmers markets.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    And, it seems, the more detached from the earth we become, the more detached from one another we become…………..this is not as it should be.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    Great pictures. I am sure passing this scene took you back a few years.

  4. Almost Iowa Says:

    It is hard to tell who they are – but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are Hmong. For the Hmong, farming is as social as it is economic.

    • Yes, I believe they are Hmong also. This scene caught me off guard, so I wasn’t perfect camera ready. Had I been, I could have zoomed closer.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        If you ever get a chance, stop by the Hmong Village just off Phalen Blvd and Johnson Pkwy in East Saint Paul. It has a great farmer’s market, a flea market and plenty of little Asian restaurants. It is a must see. I recommend the Pho at almost any shop. It is where I had lunch every day while working for the BCA.

      • Thanks for the tip, Greg. I’ll ask my daughter and son-in-law about this as they both work in St. Paul. I need to explore the Cities more under their guidance since I don’t know either of the Twin Cities very well.

  5. This is beautiful, Audrey. Reading you within sight and sound of the sea. So far from that land you love, and on the land I love! But I love Minnesota now too- in a more calm love…less intense, perhaps, and more refined. Thanks for helping me keep the images of my new home….

    • You are welcome. I know how much you miss your beloved Orcas Island, what a transition it was to move to the prairie. I hope you’re having a wonderful time “back home” and the research is going well.

  6. Jackie Says:

    I believe these are Hmong, who work many fields in Minnesota and are part of Hmong American Farmers Association. We drive by a section of fields near Hastings when we drive to the cities and they are often out “working the land” by hand. There are a few small scattered tractors but I’ve never seen them move. They truly are a picture of farming the way it used to be so many years ago. I often wonder if its because they want to do it this way, or they simply cant afford the machinery?

  7. I love your very last line here!

  8. I miss tending a garden and growing items with my own two hands this Summer. Hopefully next year 🙂

    Happy Week – Enjoy!

  9. Don Says:

    OH MY, Cockleburs, I have not thought of those in years!
    Corn detasseling, walking beans picking rocks etc. foreign terms to many folks I am sure, but in the Midwest not so.
    Wow everything looks so green and healthy in your pictures!

  10. hotlyspiced Says:

    Lovely images, Audrey, and it does look so beautiful and green. I have just spent a weekend in the country and I do feel very renewed after reconnecting with nature. I share your sentiments xx

  11. Sue Ready Says:

    Oh my Audrey such lyrical lines you have started this post…

    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.

    Just rearrange your lines and I see/feel a poem for NAC perhaps?
    Thanks for sharing your talents with all your devoted fans.


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