Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

As Canadian wildfires rage: “What’s mine is yours” May 4, 2016

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of unfurling leaves in my Minnesota backyard.

IT’S BEEN A GLORIOUS MAY day here in southern Minnesota. Sunshine. Clear blue skies. Leaves unfurling in a landscape that is a lush and vivid green.

Tomorrow, though, we can expect “milky skies,” according to the National Weather Service Twin Cities Twitter page. Smoke from Canadian wildfires is moving east into Minnesota. It will be a visual reminder of what our neighbors to the northwest are enduring as wildfires rage.

With some 88,000 people evacuated from the Ft. McMurray area and 1,600 structures already destroyed, it would be easy to feel overwhelmed by the scope of the disaster. And those feelings would be warranted.

But while I was reading about the fires and evacuation today, I was moved to tears by the goodness of people. Scrolling through posts on the Fort McMurray Evacuee Open Source Help Facebook page, I read offer after offer of help:

We have a house in north Edmonton. What’s mine is yours. Plenty of clothes for a female child age 4-6. Toys for any age. Room to park a small trailer. Room for a tent, basement and air mattress ready. Food, shower anything you need please call or text… Can pick you up and help with small children

Is anyone stranded on HWY 63 that needs fuel or supplies? Please let me know!

It’s not much. But if anyone should be coming through spruce grove on their journey tonight, I would like to give a hot meal. And a place to relax and regroup your thoughts and plans.

The Church of South Edmonton is opening its doors to those displaced by the fire. They’ll offer snacks, activities for kids, a BBQ, pastoral counseling, internet access—simply a place to recharge and refocus. People can sign up online to host a family.

Offers of help are also coming from Slave Lake, which only five years ago suffered from similar devastating wildfires:

I have a spare room ready for anyone in need in Sherwood park! Wanting to pay it forward as I’m from Slave lake and lost my house so I would love to help someone! Txt me at…

LIVESTOCK
If there’s anybody from Ft McMurray in need, I have feed and water pen space available for free in Slave Lake. Can take 10-15 head of horses/cattle

And, yes, the offers for assistance extend beyond helping people. Canadians are also opening their farms and homes to house displaced pets and livestock.

We live by Rocky Mountain house On a farm We have room and free feed for your large or small livestock for as long as needed. Also room for your rv. And a spare room. And a holiday trailer that sleeps 7 for as long as you need. We can also come up and pick you or your animals up.

If you want your faith restored in people today, then I’d encourage you to read the Ft. McMurray Evacuee Open Source Help Facebook page. Now.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Details of weddings in Steele County, Part II

A sampling of dresses in the exhibit.

A sampling of dresses in the Wedding Traditions of Steele County exhibit.

 

AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND WRITER, details matter to me. Likewise, details matter to historians. We are meticulous in our documentation. We understand that details tell the complete story.

 

Details have always been important in wedding photography.

Details have always been important in wedding photography as shown in this exhibit photo.

 

Wedding gifts are listed in this book on display.

Wedding gifts are listed in this book on display.

 

That is evident in Wedding Traditions of Steele County, a recently-opened exhibit at the Steele County History Center in Owatonna. Although bridal gowns certainly are the highlight, there is so much more to be seen—in the photos, in the genealogy, in the explanations of traditions.

 

This bow sits on the shoulder/neckline of a dress.

This bow sits on the shoulder/neckline of a dress.

 

Lovely fabric rosettes adorn a 1964 bridal gown.

Lovely fabric rosettes adorn a 1964 bridal gown.

 

A sash ties in the front of a dress designed by Owatonna native Scott Nylund.

A sash ties in the front of a dress designed by Owatonna native Scott Nylund.

 

An illusion neckline drapes on a 1949 bridal gown.

An illusion neckline drapes on a 1949 bridal gown.

 

As I took in the displays, I found myself focusing on details in bridal gown design.

 

Sharon West and her wedding party party get ready for her September 1959 wedding at the United Methodist Church in Owatonna.

Sharon West and her wedding party get ready for her September 1959 wedding at the United Methodist Church in Owatonna. Although this vintage shot doesn’t look posed, it likely was.

 

And then I studied the wedding photos, noting how wedding photography has changed from mostly formal posed portraits to the journalistic style of today.

 

A name place card is among items displayed.

A name place card is among items displayed.

 

Details, details, details. In planning a wedding, they are essential. And this exhibit shows that.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for one final post in this Wedding Traditions of Steele County series. Click here to read my first post in this series.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling