Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Rooted in the land, still August 4, 2015

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The elevator in Lamberton, Minnesota, just to the south of my brother's place.

Grain elevators, like this one in Lamberton to the south of my brother’s place, define rural small town Minnesota skylines.

THERE ARE DAYS, even now after forty years away from the farm, that I yearn to permanently return, to plant my feet upon the land, to follow a gravel road, to breathe in deeply the scent of freshly-mown alfalfa, to step into the blackness of a summer night under a sky pinpointed with an infinity of stars. On land that is mine. It will never happen.

Clover on the edge of a field.

Clover on the edge of a field.

But I am fortunate that my middle brother and his wife live on my native prairie on a rural acreage that they share. It has become the extended family gathering spot, the site that reconnects me to southwestern Minnesota, my childhood home.

Brian and Vicki recently added an outhouse (used for storage) to their property. This reminds me of the first 11 years of my life, living in a house without a bathroom and using a two-holer outhouse.

Brian and Vicki recently added an outhouse (used for storage) to their property. This reminds me of the first 11 years of my life, living in a house without a bathroom and using a two-holer outhouse.

Each time I visit Brian and Vicki’s home 120 miles distant from Faribault, I wander their land with my camera, photographing rural scenes, capturing memories with my lens.

Monarch attracting milkweed grows next to a soybean field.

Monarch attracting milkweed grows along the fence line next to a soybean field.

Scents of clover and of milkweed.

The John Deere tractor roared by my brother's place much of the afternoon

The John Deere tractor roared by my brother’s place much of the afternoon as the farmer baled hay.

Roar of a tractor.

The gravel road that runs past my middle brother's rural acreage just north of Lamberton, Minnesota.

The gravel road that runs past my middle brother’s rural acreage just north of Lamberton.

Crunching of gravel beneath feet.

The sun begins to set.

The sun begins to set.

The undeniable serenity that descends with daylight’s impending departure.

There's something about a leaning fence post that is authentically rural.

There’s something about a leaning fence post that is authentically rural.

Fence posts leaning, sun setting, crops growing. Absence of noise.

Wheat in the field just across the fence line.

Wheat in the field just across the fence line.

This is enough to hold me, to remind me of my roots, to imprint the poetry of the land upon my soul.

BONUS PHOTOS:

A rural home for the birds.

A rural home for the birds.

There's something poetic about an old wooden fence post.

There’s something poetic about an old wooden fence post at dusk.

Beautiful brohm grass. As a child, my siblings and I would play make-believe in the tall grass on our farm.

Beautiful brohm grass. As children, my siblings and I would play make-believe in the tall grass on our farm near Vesta.

Even the sight of this aged insulator sparks memories.

Even the sight of this aged insulator sparks memories.

A birdhouse, perfect in its simplicity.

A birdhouse, perfect in its simplicity.

Growing up on our crop and dairy farm, my eldest brother, Doug, photographed the cows and recorded details about them. My middle brother treasures this compilation of information from our farm. And so do I. Memories...

Growing up on our crop and dairy farm, my eldest brother, Doug, photographed the cows and recorded details about them. My middle brother treasures this compilation of information from our farm. And so do I. Memories… Brian showed this to us on our last visit and I considered it important enough to photograph. It is a piece of rural, and family, history.

FYI: All of these photos were taken on the July Fourth weekend.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling