Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A determination to rediscover the joys of winter in Minnesota January 20, 2017

This huge, hard-as-rock snowdrift blocked our farm driveway in this March 1965 photo. I think my uncle drove over from a neighboring farm to help open the drive so the milk truck to reach the milkhouse.

I pose with my mom and four siblings atop a hard-as-rock snowdrift blocking our farm driveway in this March 1965 photo. Location: rural Vesta, Redwood County, Minnesota.

BACK IN MY LIFE-ON-THE-FARM days, I loved winter. Every bucket of snow pushed from the farmyard with the loader of the John Deere tractor created a mountain. Soon a whole range rimmed the yard. There my siblings and I roamed, our imaginations taking us to the wilds of Alaska.

I am trying to reclaim that enthusiasm for winter—for carving caves into snowbanks, for sledding down hills, for building snow forts, for tossing snowballs. Not that I plan to engage in any of those activities. But I need to rediscover that winter can be fun. And my go-to place for that now is Faribault’s River Bend Nature Center.




From 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. this Saturday, January 21, River Bend celebrates its annual WinterFest with kicksledding, snowshoeing, games, nature crafts, animal shows and more.




I’m uncertain whether I will make that event. But I embraced the winter season by hiking the trails of River Bend in the balmy 30-degree warmth of a recent January afternoon. You can read about that by visiting the Faribault Tourism website “Stories” section. Click here. Enjoy.

TELL ME: How do you embrace winter? For those of you living in warm weather climates, go ahead, laugh, or share a story.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “A determination to rediscover the joys of winter in Minnesota”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I do not miss the snow and ice as you well know but I do like a bit of nip in the air sometimes. We have had a very beautiful week–one where I actually went barefoot outside, sat on the front porch in short sleeves and rocked in my rocker and read. Picture perfect. But the snow is beautiful when it falls and I love to look at it if I don’t have to be anywhere. We had snow here last week when we were in Florida–missed every bit of it. Our neighbor who is from Florida got stuck in his driveway. 🙂

    • Barefoot outside. Short sleeves. Rocking on your front porch and reading. You paint an enticing picture.

      Here’s mine from yesterday: Scraping ice from the driveway in 37 degree temps. But, hey, I got so hot I shed my winter coat. The sunshine felt so good.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        The sunshine makes a huge difference! HUGE! Notice caps and exclamation marks. I can take the cold much easier if the sun is out. I think that is why Ohio always makes me sad—it is so often gray and overcast and Iowa at least was usually sunny. Hooray for sun. And hooray for spring getting closer and closer.

      • You are right on the sunshine. Even in bitter cold, sunshine makes the frigid temps more bearable.

  2. Littlesundog Says:

    Spending my first 38 years in Nebraska, I understand embracing winter. The most ridiculous activity was probably ice fishing, but I’m proud to say I experienced it… many times. In the south snow is a novelty and I get mighty excited to get my Nebraska shovel out and I scoop away. I do not like the bitter cold, but cold weather doesn’t keep me inside.

  3. I have done winter in the Midwest as well as out in the Sierras. I embraced winter in January 2015 by deciding to move from Out West to the Sunshine State. We have been blessed with many 80 degree days lately and I am soaking it in 🙂 Happy Weekend – Enjoy – Stay Warm!

  4. Valerie Says:

    I really like winter (except for the ICE). We like to cross-country ski, snowshoe, hike when possible, have bonfires (!), and I used to love to ice skate. We’ve been de-cluttering our basement and we came across my ice skates…I wondered if I should keep them. I guess not anymore. ;-(

    • I’m with you on the dislike of ice. I once loved ice skating also, but won’t engage in that sport anymore do to a possible fall. I gave my skates away long ago.

      Kudos to you for participating in all those winter sports.

  5. Almost Iowa Says:

    Have you ever gotten up to Northfield and walked through their nature walk? It is wonderful how many treats like this are in the area.

  6. Jackie Says:

    I’m so thrilled to see the little steps you are taking to embrace winter. It is such a quiet, peaceful time. I think it heightens your senses and cleans out your airways….ha.The gloom and rain that we are experiencing this weekend isn’t my favorite, but there is hope for more “winter” to come.

  7. Neil Says:

    Bracing for winter – yes. Em brrr acing winter – not happening! I currently embrace the cold weather by laying in a good suppy of fire wood for the fireplace and going outside only when necessity dictates!

  8. hotlyspiced Says:

    How lovely to have that photo from 1965. You certainly have a very different winter to the one we experience. While it might be too cold for you to go outside, I’m currently hiding indoors because it’s so hot out there xx

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    Indeed if we reside in Minnesota there is a need to embrace winter. get outside sharpen our senses and be visually aware of our surroundings. I have not been to River Bend Park but sounds like the perfect getaway. Adding in a little sunshine does invigorate the walk. But I must say owning a dog gets one out side no matter what the temp.The real brutal part comes at the zero degree mark and below. Then one has to keep repeating embrace, embrace, embrace 🙂

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    I love your snow pile. I love this time of year!!! I’d move to Alaska if it wasn’t so far from my family.

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