Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts following a country drive west of Wanamingo March 30, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Rural Minnesota, 102 barn & cattle


WE ALL HAVE OUR PLACE of comfort, the place that brings us peace and allows us to escape, if but for a minute or an hour or a day.

For me, that’s a drive in the country, along the less-traveled back roads of Minnesota.


Rural Minnesota, 106 barn and corn stubble


I am of the land, of sky and fields and barns and silos and farmhouses. Rural Minnesota shaped me into the person I’ve become. A writer. A photographer. A poet. A keeper of rural life and of small towns.


Rural Minnesota, 110 barn & Harverstore silos



Memories of farm life tuck away in my heart. Doing chores—feeding calves and cows and scooping silage and manure. Walking beans. Picking rock. Gathering around the supper table with my parents and siblings to eat that which we’d grown and raised. Playing in the grove. Racing across rock solid snowdrifts sculpted by the prairie wind.

Life on the farm wasn’t easy. But it was good. Good in the sort of way that comes from working hard and understanding that family and faith come first.


Rural Minnesota, 111 house in Aspelund


I grew up poor. There were no birthday gifts, except from an aunt, my godmother. A meal was sometimes comprised of a kettle of plain white rice. Clothes were sometimes stitched from feed sacks and most certainly handed down. There was no telephone or television or indoor bathroom in the early years of my life. I went to church and Sunday School every week.

I am grateful my parents were never wealthy in the monetary sense. I would not be the person I am today. It is not important to me to have the newest or latest or best. I am content with what I have. I consider myself grounded and honest and loyal. Down-to-earth. Rooted. I love the land and I love family.


Rural Minnesota, 103 barn & silo


These are the thoughts that surface when I journey through the Minnesota countryside, when I photograph barns and farmhouses and other rural scenes. I am capturing the essence of the place that shaped me. Land. Sky. Fields. Barns. Silos. Farmhouses. And, yes, my family and my faith.


Rural Minnesota, 108 sprawling farmhouse


FYI: These images were taken while traveling along Goodhue County Road 30 west of Wanamingo, Minnesota, and in Aspelund, a slight veer to the north. I did not grow up in this area. Rather, I was raised on a dairy and crop farm in Redwood County, on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. My childhood home was nothing like the houses pictured here. Ours was a tiny woodframe farmhouse heated by an oil burning stove in the living room. The kitchen had an interior trap door that led to a dirt cellar. It was cramped. But it was home.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Thoughts following a country drive west of Wanamingo”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Home is whatever place you feel most comfortable and your home is one of the most comfortable places of all —the farmland and prairies of Minnesota. Your parents gave you such a great start in life with love and a strong faith and that is what matters the most. The material things can be nice at times but are not the foundation of a solid life.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    For me, there are few other things as relaxing as a drive through the countryside.

  3. There is just something about a Grand Farmhouse and a Big Barn that grabs my attention and makes me want to explore! Beautiful Captures – thanks for the rural road trip 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy

  4. Being less fortunate, is sometimes a gift that we don’t appreciate until we are not..

  5. I knew you grew up on a farm, but didn’t realize the whole story. My parents both worked — Dad in the military for my childhood, Mom in civil service — but we had a large garden after my father retired from the army and went to work for the post office. My brother and I spent lots of time, especially in the early years of the garden, picking up rocks, so I smiled when I read that part of your story. We also had to pull up Johnson grass. I didn’t like those chores, but I enjoyed the harvesting parts — breaking up beans, shelling limas, shucking corn (although not the corn worms — eww, and don’t get me started on the tomato hornworms!), and helping my mother can and freeze. I miss those days, but I especially miss all that homegrown produce.

  6. Don Says:

    The theme song for the old TV show says it all for me:

    “Green acres is the place for me.
    Farm livin’ is the life for me.
    Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
    Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.”

    Todays pictures say it all, no words necessary………………………

    • I was just watching some TV show the other night that the showed NYC skyline stretching into forever. I thought, I could never live there. Way too many tall buildings and people crammed together. It’s a good thing we all like different places. I need space and country, definitely green acres.

  7. Sartenada Says:

    I love the architecture in Your photos. Thank You showing them. It seems that winter is over there. We have yet our nearby lake frozen.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    That kind of life experience teaches more than a silver spoon ever could. Beautiful houses.

  9. ryanware Says:

    Audrey, great post and I really like the farm house in the 4th photo. It’s a classic, though somewhat of a mansion as farmhouses go in Minnesota. I’m a sucker for the American Four Square. Would love to own one someday.

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