Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Southwestern Minnesota: The place of my heart, in images & words December 6, 2016

I shot this rural farmsite/sunset scene while traveling along Minnesota State Highway 67 between Redwood Falls and Morgan.

I shot this rural farmsite/sunset scene while traveling along Minnesota State Highway 67 between Redwood Falls and Morgan.

OFTENTIMES IT TAKES LEAVING a place to appreciate it.

A farmhouse along Minnesota State Highway 19 in Redwood County near my hometown of Vesta.

A farmhouse along Minnesota State Highway 19 in Redwood County near my hometown of Vesta.

There are days when I miss my native southwestern Minnesota prairie with an ache that lingers. I long for wide open space and forever skies,

The grain elevator in Morgan.

The grain elevator in Morgan in eastern Redwood County.

for farm fields and familiar grain elevators,

This gravel road connects to Minnesota State Highway 19 between Vesta and Redwood Falls.

This gravel road connects to Minnesota State Highway 19 between Vesta and Redwood Falls.

for gridded gravel roads

A prairie sunset photographed from Minnesota State Highway 67 between Redwood Falls and Morgan.

A prairie sunset photographed from Minnesota State Highway 67 between Redwood Falls and Morgan.

and flaming sunsets. And quiet.

Sure, I could drive into the country here in southeastern Minnesota and see similar sites. But it’s not the same. This is not my native home, the place that shaped me. Although decades removed, I shall always call the prairie my home.

Minnesota State Highway 67, one of the roadways leading "home."

Minnesota State Highway 67, one of the roadways leading “home.”

With family still living in southwestern Minnesota, I return there occasionally. And that, for now, is enough. I drink in the scenery like gulping a glass of cold well water tasting of iron and earth. I am refreshed, renewed, restored.

This lone tree along Minnesota State Highway 19 near the Belview corner has been here as long as I can remember.

This lone tree along Minnesota State Highway 19 near the Belview corner has been here as long as I can remember.

I need to view the prairie, to walk the soil, to reclaim my roots. I need to see the sunsets, to breathe in the scent of freshly-mown alfalfa, to watch corn swaying in the breeze, to observe snow drifting across rural roadways, to feel the bitter cold bite of a prairie wind.

A farmer guides his John Deere tractor along Minnesota State Highway 67 near Morgan.

A farmer guides his John Deere tractor along Minnesota State Highway 67 near Morgan.

There are those who dismiss this region as the middle-of-nowhere. It’s not. It’s a place of community, of good hardworking people, of Saturday night BINGO and Sunday morning worship services. It’s lines at the grain elevator and fans packing bleachers at a high school basketball game. It’s acres of corn and soybeans in the season of growth and tilled black fields in the time between. This place is somewhere to those who live here. And to those of us who were raised here.

Every trip back along Minnesota State Highway 67, I am drawn to photograph the electrical lines that stretch seemingly into forever.

Every trip back along Minnesota State Highway 67, I am drawn to photograph the electrical lines that stretch seemingly into forever.

For me, this land, this prairie, shall always be home.

© Copyright 2106 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

29 Responses to “Southwestern Minnesota: The place of my heart, in images & words”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    You are so tied to your roots and what a wonderful thing that is. So many people don’t “get” that and it is a blessing to feel that you belong somewhere, isn’t it? Chris is actually in Minnesota and Wisconsin this week–enjoying the cold and snow. 🙂

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Love that farmhouse………just needs to be covered with snow and it would be a Currrier & Ives for sure!!!!! You are definitely a “Prairie Gal”!!!!! The rugged nooks and crannies of the Coulee Region spell cozy and home-y for me (that last is interesting, given my Metro raising…….but that was never a place I considered “home”, surprisingly!)………LUV your poetics!!!

  3. Dan Traun Says:

    I share your fascination with power lines. The patterns they create, when gazed upon long enough, can be mesmerizing at times.

  4. Valerie Says:

    There’s no place like home!

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    I think it’s a wonderful thing to be so rooted and connected with the place you call home. The images presented today brought back memories of the rural area I grew up in in Nebraska. Funny you had transmission lines and power structures in a few photos… FD works in the power generation industry. Who supplies the power in your neck of the woods?

  6. Colleen Gengler Says:

    I am the reverse of you: I grew up in southeastern Minnesota and now live in the “deep” southwest part of the state. There are many similarities but you’re right. It is different. However, I have grown to love the wide open spaces. This came home to me when traveling in northern Minnesota. Although it is beautiful, I couldn’t live amidst all the trees. We were traveling for miles on a highway continuously lines with trees on both sides. Eventually I got a little claustrophobic. Way too many trees!

    • I am laughing, Colleen, because my husband has heard me say more than once, “There are too many trees. I need to see a field.” I totally understand. That said, since moving to Faribault 34 years ago, where there are way more trees than on the prairie, I’ve adapted. I can handle more trees. And that’s a good thing given all the trees packed into Pennsylvania and other eastern states we traveled through in May. But I’d still feel closed-in if I was in any mega woods for an extended time period.

  7. Don Says:

    “The middle-of-nowhere” region is my kind of place. Your writings and photographs make my heart grow fonder for the day I will once again call the Midwest my home. Funny up here in Alaska almost everyone we run into asked “Where are you from”? I always respond, Minnesota even though I have lived here for the better part of 30 years Minnesota and the prairie will always be my home, in my heart, in my thoughts, and in my minds eye!

  8. Jackie Says:

    I love your connection to the prairie, and the words you use to share with your readers what’s in your heart. Beautiful photo’s as always.

  9. Jackie Says:

    I love your stories and memories of the prairie. Your words are heartfelt and your photo’s help us understand what still lives in your soul.

  10. You are welcome to stop by any time you’re “in the SW MN neighborhood”!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s