Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reclaiming an appreciation for winter through photography February 2, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IN THE DAYS OF MY YOUTH, I embraced winter. I saw potential in every snowfall. Snow caves and tunnels. Snow forts. Sledding.




Snow pushed to the edge of the farmyard and rock-hard snowdrifts formed a mountain range, a seasonal anomaly on the southwestern Minnesota prairie. It was the ideal setting to role-play the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or to challenge siblings in King of the Mountain.




I can’t reclaim those carefree days lingering now only in memories. But I can still appreciate winter, an attitude I’m relearning. That is easiest accomplished through the lens of my camera.




Heading out of Faribault last Sunday afternoon for Owatonna along Interstate 35, I felt the sun radiating warmth through the van windows. And I noticed, too, the blueness of the sky scuttled by white clouds. I welcomed the blue after too many grey January days.




Aiming my camera to the west toward farm fields layered in a thin coating of snow, I was nearly fooled into thinking I was back on my native prairie. The land appeared familiar in the winter commonality of bare trees and open fields. And I found comfort in that—in the uncluttered landscape, in the simplicity of lines, in the visual vulnerability the earth shows in winter.




TELL ME: What do you most appreciate about winter, if you appreciate it? If you don’t, why not?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


37 Responses to “Reclaiming an appreciation for winter through photography”

  1. Janelle Parry Says:

    Hi Audrey,
    I think winter is a time of renewal, the land rests, people have time to get to those things they put off while it’s nice outside. I think we also find different things to do and it adds a dimension of interest to our lives. Home parties, exhibits, bowling, skiing,crafts, things we might not do in our beautiful short warm season.
    Recently returning from the south I think it makes our land better, makes us a more developed, flexible people, more diverse in our interests and hobbies.
    Oh! and of course no mosquitos:-).
    I think snow and winter make us a special breed and it was one of the reasons I missed it so much and had to move back. It makes us appreciate the rest of the seasons more.
    Have a wonderful winter day today!
    Janelle Parry

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Okay—I will post my comment here as well. I use Bloglovin as my reader and now you can leave comments there . I would rather leave it on your actual blog so you can see it! So here you go: appreciate when it is over . 🙂 I actually like the first big snow but then I am over it when it gets to looking slushy and dirty and when the cold drags on forever. Where we live now has just enough nip in the air at times to keep me feeling like it is winter but not too much so.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Love to see that blue sky again. Winter is never so beautiful as it is under a blue sky with fresh snow.

  4. Beautiful Captures 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    These are beautiful photographs, Audrey. Just the mention of “King of the Mountain” brought back pleasant memories (though that game could be rather brutal at times with my siblings) of hours spent in the snow when I was a kid. Now I’m not so fond of winter and snow, but I do enjoy it here in the South, when it’s more of a novelty. Cold, bitter and snowy one day, gone in three to four days! You’ve captured the beauty of winter with your photographs, and lilted us back to childhood play with your prose. Well done!

    • Thank you.

      You are right in stating that King of the Mountain play could sometimes be brutal, especially with the brothers. Such wonderful memories, though.

      I’m glad you found a place that suits you with minimal winter. I’m sure you have enough Nebraska winter memories to carry you.

  6. Valerie Says:

    I do like winter and try to get out to enjoy it as much as I can. But, I do not like the ice. It scares me.
    During the winter season it’s also nice to be Inside sitting by the fire and drinking hot chocolate. Having different seasons makes Minnesota a great place to live I think.

    Also, I enjoy seeing your photographs Audrey.

  7. Jackie Says:

    You already know how I feel, but I’ll tell you again…. I LOVE the beauty of winter, the peace and stillness, It slows me down and resets me. I’m so glad to see that you are starting to embrace this wonderful season here in Minnesota! Beautiful photo’s!

  8. Don Says:

    Winter is for Skiing, sledding with the grandkids and tea next to a roaring fire with a good book. That being said it is too long a season here, 7 months or so of it gets to be way to long for this Minnesota raised boy!

  9. texasunknown Says:

    Great shots! I have a friend that lives in Northern Minnesota. He likes to tease me about wearing shorts and sandals when it’s 10 degrees out.
    Winter in Texas is strange; especially where I live. It rarely gets below freezing and most of the time is still sunny and temperate. The only main difference is that most of the trees are bare, and there isn’t a lot of wildlife like we see in the other seasons. Taking engaging photos is challenging, but it’s a fun way to get out of a rut creatively.

  10. Mel. Says:

    The beauty and the opportunity to slow down.

  11. Yes I do love winter. The warmth of the sun, hot cup of milk, reading books inside blanket and there are many more things which I love about winter. Though I’ve never seen snowfall. But I’d love to see it.
    Loved your post, dear….

  12. John Says:

    No one mentioned watching and feeding birds. I have constant activity at my bird feeders and enjoy watching them at the feeders. Here in southern Wisconsin Cardinals are common and the Blue Jays are especially fun to watch. They love unsalted peanuts, either raw or roasted. Check with your local feed store.

  13. I love the contrast of colors much better than the gloomy gray sky’s but I’m still thankful for the lack of pollen in the air.

  14. Aaron Says:

    I love how still and quiet it is when the snow is falling, especially on nights where there’s no wind and the stars are out. I also love how animals will pile up and sleep together, I thinks the cutest thing. And they get fluffier.

  15. Sue Ready Says:

    Great images posted and the beauty of a new winter snowfall can be breathtaking with a sense of quietness taking in the the simplicity of nature. But the rude awakening of driving can be a jarring note.

  16. Lorry Schwartz Karow Says:

    Let me start with, I don’t like Ice. It makes driving and walking so treacherous. But I like winter. I like to shovel snow, breathing and feeling the refreshing cool air. I love a cup of hot chocolate after the deed (shoveling) is done. I love seeing the beauty in a field of unbroken snow and how a drift is formed. And then there is hint of t the most beautiful colors of blue in the snow, especially as you dig into the heavy water laden snow. And then there are piles of broken snow that remind me of powdered sugar. I like to cross country ski through the woods or across open fields, the silence in the air is beautiful. And there are the close ups of birds at the seed and suet feeders, and the list goes on.

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