Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The joys & revelations of a Sunday afternoon drive in rural Minnesota September 1, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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THERE IS SOMETHING about late August and early September in Minnesota that is comforting, yet tinged with melancholy. Comforting in the hope of harvest. Melancholy in that summer is all but a closed chapter in our book of seasons.

In the morning, fog lingers after nights that necessitate the closing of windows, the pulling on of blankets. But then, as the day progresses, the chill gives way to heat and humidity. It’s as if summer and autumn are tugging at the weather blanket.

Somewhere east of Northfield.

Somewhere east of Northfield.

Beyond the weather, there exist undeniable visuals of the seasonal changes, best observed during a drive in the countryside. I am a firm believer in the value of a Sunday afternoon drive to notice that which all too often passes unseen and unappreciated. So this past Sunday, my husband and I followed blacktop county and back gravel roads through the up-and-down terrain of rural Rice County.

We have neither smart phones or a GPS, thus rely on our over-sized 1994 Minnesota Atlas & Gazetteer and our sense of direction (the husband’s, not mine) to navigate when necessary. Mostly we just drive, turning when we please.

On the edges of fields, corn leaves are drying.

On the edges of fields, corn leaves are drying. This scene is along a road between Faribault and Dundas.

It doesn’t take much to please me. Simply by being in the country, I experience a sense of peace. All is well in the world as I notice the seasonal changes of corn leaves morphing from green to parched. I can visualize combines roaring across the land, golden kernels spilling into grain trucks.

Beautiful horses and beautiful goldenrod somewhere east of Northfield.

Beautiful horses and beautiful goldenrod somewhere east of Northfield.

In and along road ditches, clusters of goldenrod bloom.

Flowers are past their prime, but still lovely, in this vintage Ford pick-up truck parked on the Fossum farm along Rice County Road 28 east of Northfield.

Flowers are past their prime, but still lovely, in this vintage Ford pick-up truck parked on the Fossum farm along Rice County Road 28 east of Northfield.

And when I look across the landscape, I see that tinge of color creeping into trees, the browning of the green that teases autumn into our days. Flowers are fading. A red barn seems redder in a land that is growing more subdued and muted. Grain bins stand at the ready.

Bins peek above a cornfield between Faribault and Dundas.

Bins peek above a cornfield between Faribault and Dundas.

I love autumn. It is my favorite season. Yet, I am reluctant for the chapter of summer to end. For I know that all too soon, I will be immersed in the chapters (plural) of winter.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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41 Responses to “The joys & revelations of a Sunday afternoon drive in rural Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I guess you need to savor the fall, right? Enjoy every single breath of it and the crispness of the air that surrounds you.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    This certainly has been awesome summer weather. Usually, by this time, one sees corn (somewhere) whose leaves are curled inward to preserve moisture but not this year anywhere!!!!! The fields are totally glorious with green unfurled leaves, which adds to the beautiful color contrasts of the changing season. Not as much browning around here as in years past…..the rains and heavy dew have been gracious, coming at just the right moment. Ah yes, Sunday afternoon drives……………sigh……………sweet childhood memories………….

  3. Thread crazy Says:

    We too are seeing the signs of fading summer. For the most part, the corn fields here have been harvested. The mornings and late evenings are starting to be a couple of degrees cooler , all I preparation of autumn. I so love fall and all glorious colors.

  4. Beautiful Captures 🙂 There is something that just attracts me to road and trail pics when out exploring and capturing. There is nothing better than getting out into the rural, pastoral spaces too! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  5. Beautiful pictures! I love the old truck. It won’t be long before that crispness in the air gives away to freezing temperatures and windchills. This is my favorite time of the year.

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Today will be hot and humid… the kind of weather we need to shepherd us toward winter.

  7. Jackie Says:

    You know how much I enjoy those rides in the country as well. I cant wait for the cooler temps of fall and the humidity to just go away, ugh. Today will be to hot and humid for me which make me yearn all the more for fall (and winter). I love the old truck with the flowers planted in the bed…such a great idea!

  8. I adore that pickup truck picture!

  9. […] for Audrey Kletscher Helbling’s post today on her Minnesota Prairie Roots blog, who acknowledges the melancholy of the season, and doesn’t let it get to her, although, in the best tradition of the season, she notes […]

  10. Sweet Posy Dreams Says:

    So nice. It does look peaceful. I would love to have those views from my own house, but I doubt that will ever happen.

  11. I despise ENDINGS.
    On the other hand, your photos are FABULOUS.
    OMGOSH, that car w/ the flowers is priceless! xxx

  12. Marneymae Says:

    Just beautiful!!
    I love this post. & can feel the melancholy in the pace of words & images.
    My goodness, What a truck! Those flowers are SO sweet.
    While I have a smartphone, it remains bundled up in a handkerchief, tucked in my purse when I’m in my car. (I don’t know how to use gps, nor do I wish to rely upon it)
    So, I too, rely upon my (falling-apart) atlas to help me navigate unfamiliar highways.
    What a sweet thing, together with your husband as he drives & acts as compass while you gather images…
    Seems like a fine partnership, & a lovely afternoon.

    • Thank you, dear Marney. Since the kids grew up and left home, we started taking these Sunday afternoon drives. Not as many as we would like lately due to other obligations. But when we can, we do. You are a girl after my heart in so many ways.

  13. Littlesundog Says:

    I really enjoyed this post, Audrey. The photographs are lovely… my favorite – the old truck! FD and I often take a drive to the country, or on the way home from the city (Oklahoma City or Lawton) we take the back roads and roll down the windows.

  14. hotlyspiced Says:

    Your images are so beautiful, Audrey, they have filled me with peace even though I’ve only had the virtual tour. It is so lovely to see your part of the world during the summer months and it is hard to believe your summer is now over. I do hope it lingers for a little bit longer and may there still be some strength in the sun’s rays xx

  15. Ha, with my wife winter doesn’t start at the end of December, it starts on Labor Day..

  16. Deanna Says:

    Awesome picture of the old Ford truck filled with blooming flowers! Great recycle idea.

  17. Sue Ready Says:

    In your words…There is something about late August and early September in Minnesota that is comforting, yet tinged with melancholy. Comforting in the hope of harvest. Melancholy in that summer is all but a closed chapter in our book of seasons.
    I can see why MPR took notice and gave you a shout out. Your reflective and keen observations are ones your readers can identify with.
    Nice job!


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