Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Random bits of autumn from southeastern Minnesota October 11, 2017

I love Hill’s Hardware Hank in Wabasha, especially in autumn decor. A photo similar to this hangs next to the hardware exhibit in the “Our World” play area at the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul. Hill’s inspired the exhibit. I am honored to have my photo hanging in the museum.


WITH OCTOBER NEARING mid-month and days until winter here in Minnesota dwindling, I feel a sense of urgency to observe and experience every nuance of autumn. That often means ignoring outdoor fall chores for a road trip or a walk in the woods or a stop at the apple orchard.


Among the many inviting autumn scenes staged in Wabasha.


This past Sunday took Randy and me east toward the Mississippi River town of Wabasha, one of my favorite southeastern Minnesota communities. This city knows how to welcome visitors via two months of celebration, coined SeptOberfest. I’ll share two aspects of Wabasha’s focus on fall in upcoming posts. But for today, here’s a photo peak at those nuances of autumn which so endear me to this season in Minnesota.


The beauty of rural Minnesota in autumn along a county road east of Bellechester and heading toward Wabasha.


I love the vistas of drying corn and soybean fields sweeping across the land.


A farm site viewed from Minnesota State Highway 60 in the Zumbro Falls area.


I love the flashes of red farm buildings in a muting landscape.


My sister Lanae, a floral designer in Waseca, created this autumn scene in her backyard.


I love the fall décor that infuses townscapes and gardens.


One of several seasonal boutiques in Wabasha. Barton’s Brickhouse Boutique is located across from the VFW.


I love the seasonal boutiques offering handcrafted gifts and the scent of pumpkin and apple crisp.


We didn’t find fall colors in Wabasha; we were too early. But we spotted beautiful colors in this treeline at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park on our drive back to Faribault.


In our many years of day trips in southeastern Minnesota, Randy and I have found some of the best fall colors in Rice County. This scene was shot from Rice County Road 84/Falk Avenue. The gravel road parallels Rice County Road 20, which is considered the “back road” between Faribault and Northfield. This scene is near the intersection of CR 84 with 154th street.


I swapped on my telephoto lens for a closer look at the distant treeline as seen from CR 84. Other places to view wonderful fall colors in Rice County are west of Faribault around the lakes and also in Faribault along residential streets in old neighborhoods, at River Bend Nature Center and from City View Park. I think we have some of the best autumn hues in southeastern Minnesota.


I love the hillsides of trees transitioning from green to yellow, orange and red.


I shot this image and the four following at River Bend Nature Center late Sunday afternoon.



I love, too, the individual leaves that wave color in the wind.



I love drying milkweed pods bursting with seeds.



There’s so much to love about October, except the prospect of winter edging closer.


TELL ME: What do you like most about autumn? Feel free to share details about favorite fall destinations.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “Random bits of autumn from southeastern Minnesota”

  1. Autumn is not my favorite time of year. Having lived in the NW for most of my life, it just reminded me that winter’s cold grip was just around the corner. But I do love the colors! Beautiful photos Audrey!

  2. Fall is Birthday Celebrations, Gathering of Family and Friends, Treats and Tricks, etc. 🙂 Beautiful Captures. It is Fall here, but not like a Midwest Fall – the pumpkins would melt in the heat here – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy

  3. Don Says:

    We are in the “ugly season” here, sigh. The leaves have fallen off the trees and everything is now grey, brown or black except for the various evergreen trees. Yesterday we had some termination dust (snow) but most of that has melted and only some scatterings remain in the hills/mountains. Your pictures bring back strong memories of growing up in MN. The corn fields, milkweed plants (I had forgotten all about them), the colors of the trees particularly the reds and oranges and all the aromas of fall that go with the season. Oh my I feel 40 years younger just looking at your pictures!

    Happy birthday to all that have October Birthdays. My family will be celebrating a couple this month too.

  4. Beth Ann Says:

    Favorite fall destination by far is my own North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Driving to Ohio yesterday allowed me to view how the different states vary in the timing of their fall colors. I stopped a couple times for some pretty fall shots and hopefully this weekend will be able to really get some great ones. Love your close ups of the milk pods. Those are amazing samples of your work and your talent is shining through in those.

  5. Don Says:

    Audrey, with your permission I would love to use the 8th picture as my computer background, it so reminds me of home!

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    You’ve captured some lovely autumn scenes! I think this year we may have fall color – it doesn’t always happen here when we get rain and the temps come down too quickly. So far, I am seeing lots of yellows beginning. I’m being hopeful for color this year!

  7. Susan Ready Says:

    I love autumn for its
    ever changing landscape
    kaleidoscope of colors
    crisp cool nights
    crunchy leaves
    new beginnings
    all things apples, pears, pumpkin and cinnamon
    I love fall

  8. Valerie Says:

    I do love this time of year too. We were gone for 5 days but I’m glad to see the leaves are still on the trees here. Cant’ wait to see them in the sunshine.

  9. Valerie Says:

    PS-Happy Birthday to you both!

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Beautiful pictures! Love the milkweed and the memories of playing with it as a kid

  11. Mireya Says:

    This past summer I traveled from la to boston and these places look like some of the beautiful places I visited.

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