Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Rural roadside surveillance May 18, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Roadside stand, 93 side view


ALONG U.S. HIGHWAY 14 at its intersection with the road to Wanda, just east of Lamberton, I spotted a roadside stand advertising rhubarb and asparagus. I had rhubarb back home in my refrigerator. But I didn’t have asparagus and I love that spring-time vegetable.

So Randy pulled our van off the highway, turning onto a farm driveway next to a green trailer. I asked if he had $3. He did. I had only larger bills. I grabbed the money and my camera, bracing myself against a fierce prairie wind to snap a few photos.


Roadside stand, 95 close-up of coolers


Then I headed for the trailer. I lifted the lid on a red cooler, noting the instructions to “Please close tightly.” I did after finding that cooler empty. Then I opened a blue cooler with the same results. Empty. No asparagus for me.


Roadside stand, 97 camera


Discouraged, I took a few more photos and headed back to the van. Randy was already backing up, which I found odd. “Is that a wildlife camera?” he asked, indicating a camera inside a wooden box mounted to the trailer. Could be.


Roadside stand, 94 trailer next to driveway


I slammed the van door, handed the money back to Randy and buckled up as he resumed backing toward the highway. About that time, a white vehicle started heading down the driveway. “We’re being watched,” I observed, which should have been obvious to me given the camera and sign noting “Protected by security system.”

Soon the vehicle curved back onto the farm site.


Roadside stand, 96 close-up of sign


I left not only without the asparagus I craved, but also a bit disillusioned. I’d like to think unattended roadside stands don’t need security systems or chains or locks. But who am I kidding? Apparently myself.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “Rural roadside surveillance”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I would have been very bummed to open those coolers and see nothing in them. They should have covered up the sign if they were out of produce. Pretty ingenious use of a wildlife camera though and I bet they get pics of all kinds of interesting “wildlife”.

  2. Dan Traun Says:

    It is a sad day indeed when that much security is needed. It is reality, though, even in the country :-/

  3. I love how you see the beauty is all things, sweets.
    Also, isn’t it sad that we need a security camera?
    How the heck do thieves sleep at night?
    O, and I LOooove asparagus.

    Talk soon. x

  4. Marneymae Says:

    I’ve seen one roadside stand out this way which boasts a security system. (I don’t go there, in truth, more for its out of the way-ness & quality or lack thereof) But the other two I’ve frequented do not have cameras. They have lock-boxes & the honor code.
    Those are the ones I visit.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    Stealing money, I can understand – but what depraved soul would steal asparagus?

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    We have game cameras here because we constantly have trespassers (and it allows us to know what hours of day and night our neighbors dogs are running a mock!). Mostly, we just enjoy seeing the night wildlife activity. Sadly, I have no doubt that possibly someone has stolen the produce in the past – why else would you need a game camera? I also thought I saw a camera lock at the back of the box – so the owner apparently needed to secure that as well. But while reading about your experience, I couldn’t help but feel that the camera probably made people feel odd. Like being accused of a crime that had not been committed. It just leaves a bad feeling in your mouth, doesn’t it? By the way, I have never seen a game camera like that one at all. Makes me wonder if it’s a fake… but then why the lock on the back? Very strange indeed!

  7. Almost Iowa Says:

    Seriously… anyone who leaves a critter cam out on the road is a trusting person. It’s worth far more than asparagus… but then that is the first order of security, most thieves are deterred by the simplest of things. Think about it, we close and lock our ground floor windows at night – leaving a 1/4 inch of brittle glass to protect us.

  8. Gunny Says:

    Farmer on his way out to meet you? He should have been bringing more produce. Cameras? They are even on your cell phones! One can’t get away from cameras! Police started using video cameras years ago. After some really stupid moves by other drivers, I am of the mind to dash-cam my entire vehicle taking enough video to 360 the vehicle! Walk up to my vehicle – Smile – your on camera! Door bell – Smile – on camera! A number of my friends have the exterior of their houses being record 24/7 day and night (vision) house surveillance – even if one is passing by on the street! I helped install an older system on a house over 20 years ago for a couple in a very high end home (that was a fixer-upper) where the husband had a high profile job. The install was not cheap! What they did get, one can do the same for under $1000, less if you do it yourself! Crazy world we live in. Long gone are the days when we just closed the door.

  9. Jackie Says:

    Oh, so sorry for your disappointment, I would have been too! I wonder how many other cars did the same as you… they really should take the sign down when they don’t have the produce, right! * side note… The previous owner of our cabin had planted Rhubarb, this weekend while there I made a rhubarb dump cake, it was yummy!

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Bummer. I love asparagus too.

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