Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The skies of summer in southwestern Minnesota July 8, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Sky in sw MN, 27 red barn close-up


DECADES AGO, I LAY flat on my back in a Redwood County, Minnesota farm yard, eyes fixated on the clouds. I wasn’t a weather watcher. Rather, I was a girl with an imagination. As I lay there, I imagined a monstrous bird swooping from the sky to bite a chunk from the silo.


Sky in sw MN, 15 big sky & farm site


I’d just viewed a movie about a giant bird attacking the Empire State Building. It was no surprise then that I noticed frightening creatures looming in the sky.


Sky in sw MN, 21 highway 14


That was then. This is now, decades later, when I am still fascinated by the clouds of summer. There’s nothing quite like the summer skies of my native southwestern Minnesota prairie. Traveling west on July 2 to a family gathering near Lamberton, I delighted in the perfect summer sky of white clouds suspended above the land in a background of blue.


Sky in sw MN, 23 corn, barn & bins


Below, fields of corn and soybeans stretched for acres, broken only by farm sites, grain elevators, small towns and slashes of roadways.


Sky in sw MN, 7 big sky & farm site


The sky and land are so big here. I suppose to some, the vastness can unsettle. But for me it’s freeing.


Sky in sw MN, 28 full corn field, farm site and cloudy sky


My mind wanders from worries and difficult realities of life, of attacking giant birds, to a carefree state. I simply feel happy here beneath clouds that hang like wispy pulls of cotton candy above the greening cropland.


Sky in sw MN, 24 bins and sky


This land, this sky, this place, this rural Minnesota shall always claim my heart and my imagination.


Sky in sw MN, 30 entering Lamberton


TELL ME: What place claims your heart and why?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Note: All of these photos were taken on July 2 while traveling westbound on U.S. Highway 14 between Sleepy Eye and Lamberton, Minnesota.


28 Responses to “The skies of summer in southwestern Minnesota”

  1. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and through somehow…….” One of my favorite Judy Collin’s songs from long ago. Do you know it? “Both Sides Now”.

  2. Marneymae Says:

    O my.
    The Midwestern skies are forever etched into my heart/mind/eyes.
    Whenever the occasional northeastern sky appears aa such, like the Illinois skies I grew up under (JUST like the ones in your photos) it gladdens me.
    There’s something about that sort of sky. I call it “a Midwestern sky”. And though I’ve never been a great fan of the summer months, the summer skies have made a deep, ever-soothing impression in me.

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    Right now the water and the mountains claim my heart. 🙂

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    Clouds are magic; especially for a photo as a clear blue sky is not all that photogenic. The bring depth and scale to the sky.

  5. treadlemusic Says:

    The Coulee Region/God’s Country/bluffs along the Root River!!! Fascinating that clouds are your “topic of the day”. Coming home last eve (from LaCrosse/Pettibone Park) I pointed out to Tom and huge bunny rabbit “attacking” a puppy dog (must have been the fodder of bunny dreams me thinks!!!!) and a giant kangaroo in profile. Tom agreed….he quickly spotted them (good thing, as he was the driver and there was a bit of traffic coming into Houston!!!). As a child, I/we would wile away many a summer hour laying on our backs, in the cool summer grass, dreamily staring at those floating cotton balls/marshmallows against blue skies that went on forever. sigh………………………………We MUST remember to “Take time to smell the roses (or coffee!!!!!)” or wonder how DO those white ‘puffies’ stay so suspended in the vast blue!?!

  6. I am a sky watcher too and love looking out the 3rd story window behind my desk at work. I just love being outside in the great outdoors exploring and adventuring 🙂 Happy Weekend – Enjoy!

  7. Ken Wedding Says:

    “What place claims your heart and why?” My heart is claimed by a spot 1,100 miles away. The shores of Jenny Lake in Grand Teton National Park.

  8. Jackie Says:

    “Up north” has always claimed my heart, it’s funny we always call those big puffy billowy clouds, “up north” clouds. Every since I was a little girl we have had connections to beautiful northern Minnesota. Also… SE Minnesota has claimed my heart as the area my dad grew up on the farm, the bluffs and valleys are spectacular. Love that area as well.

  9. We always call those cotton candy clouds. Throwing my camera in my bag for tomorrow. If I have time I will take pictures of my Mother’s hometown of about 400 people.

  10. Don Says:

    I am and have always been a cloud watcher however, the clouds of the Midwest hold a special place in my heart. Here where I am, the mountains, while nice and picturesque in their own way, do not make my heart go pitter patter like the wide open plains states do. The ability to see the abundance of clouds floating effortlessly through the air, on the way to wherever, for me, is pure enjoyment. Laying in a nice lawn of green grass brings emotions of comfort, contemplative thinking and overall enjoyment. Clouds and the wide open views make me realize we are so inconsequential in the overall scheme of things. Contemplative is a good word to use when cloud watching!

    Great pictures by the way………………………………..

  11. Andy Schilling Says:

    I totally understand your sentiments toward the big SW mn sky; growing up in rural Wanda with a horizon line that never ended. Now in Minneapolis I get small glimpses of the summer sky and yearn for the panoramic view.

    • Andy, it’s good to hear from another former Redwood County resident. I recognize your last name. I grew up on a farm south of Vesta and graduated from Wabasso in 1974. Fortunately I still have family back in sw Minnesota to visit.

  12. Bernadette Thomasy Says:

    Great post. Your photos do justice to the clouds I remember from growing up near Owatonna. Sometimes we get the big puffy white clouds here in Sacramento, CA, too and I am immediately reminded of Minnesota. Loved seeing these pictures.

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