Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

February at the ballpark & I’m not talking spring training in Florida February 23, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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ON A FEBRUARY AFTERNOON, sunshine heats the earth, slants shadows upon snow fallen fresh that morning. It is a rare day of respite from a too-cold winter in Minnesota and I am anxious to get outside.



So Randy and I hop in the Chevy and head toward Dundas, just south of Northfield. I want to walk in Memorial Park, home of the Dundas Dukes. Randy pulls the car into the riverside park, loops and stops on a snowy road next to a trail. We exit, tread with caution along a path, diverting off the icy route as needed to avoid slipping.



Passing the abandoned playground, I observe swings hung statue-still.



I note footprints through the snow leading to a Little Free Library. Used even in winter.



A short hike away, I step onto the foot bridge spanning the Cannon River.



I pause midway, focus on ruins of the Archibald Mill,



bridge shadows,



an open spot of water,



the river ribboning white between shoreline trees.



In the simplicity of this place, these scenes, I feel content. I am here with Randy, who appreciates the natural silence as much as me.




Overhead I watch a Delta airliner angling down toward the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. I wonder about those aboard. Would they rather be leaving than arriving?



Some 1,700 miles away in the warmth of Ft. Myers, the Minnesota Twins toss and catch balls, swing bats and practice in the sunshine of opening week of spring training. Here in Dundas, opening day is still months away. I imagine the bold orange seats and grandstands filled with spectators, the cracks of bats, the swish of baseballs when the Dukes meet the Hampton Cardinals here on April 29. I can almost hear the conversations and laughter that will soon fill this place.



I head back toward the car, tracking in the footsteps of those who, like me, dream. Of sunny summer days. Of baseball. Of walks in the park. And of rivers that run free of ice, free of snow, free of winter under a Minnesota sky.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


29 Responses to “February at the ballpark & I’m not talking spring training in Florida”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Sunny days are ahead. I promise. They are coming.

  2. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Audrey, I love these photos. Even though you’re imagining the warmth of summer’s return to this place, these photos show the beauty of winter and its silence in wonderful light. The open spot of water and the old mill are my favorites.

  3. Sue Ready Says:

    You nailed it! I just took a workshop recently on photography composition and your posting covered all 9 points which included: simplicity, lines, diagonal -symmetry, fill the picture etc. What a pro you are!

    • Thank you, Sue. How sweet of you. I’ve been doing photography for a long time and the more you shoot, the better you become. When I got my digital DSLR, that’s when the world of photography really opened for me.

      I love now to experiment with various perspectives and angles. Have you ever tried just setting your camera on the ground, angling it up and seeing what you get? Or holding your camera over your head and shooting down? Sometimes you get only shots worthy of deletion. But sometimes you get a totally unique photo.

      Two other important techniques: Shoot at various levels, not just stand and click. Too many people make that mistake. I crawl, squat, get down on my knees, find a high vantage point, etc. Finally, I always attempt to tell a story through a variety of images from overall scene shots to close-ups.

      Most of all, have fun. I can’t wait to hear more and see more from you.

  4. Patrick L. Coleman Says:


    From the angle of the sun in the grandstand photo it seems that the field orientation is the opposite of most, that is, left field is south not north. This makes lefty pitchers northpaws and can put the setting sun in the batter’s eye.

    Such is the orientation of one of my favorite townball fields, Legion Field in Cascade, Iowa. For years the games during some weeks would be halted at some point in the evening until the sun set. Finally the fundraiser had enough to buy the wood to block the sun and the teams did the carpentry.


    • It’s good to hear from you, Patrick. Yes, at the time I shot these photos in mid to late afternoon, the batter would have been looking directly into the sun.

      I’ve not heard of Cascade, Iowa. What makes that particular field special to you?

  5. Patrick L. Coleman Says:

    All my genes come from Dubuque county so I have seen cousins play many a game there over the years.

  6. Jackie Says:

    I love that you are taking advantage of “winter” despite the fact that you’d rather it be spring. Rick and I are hoping to do some moving and walking in Duluth this weekend. Loved your winter photo’s….I see the beauty in it all!

  7. Norma Says:

    So beautiful and peaceful. I can only imagine this winter beauty, as here, we have been as high as the 80’s, and mostly in the 60’s and 70’s all winter. No rain, no peaceful overcast skies. Just sun !!! Enjoy.

  8. Beautiful photos – minus the white stuff for me 🙂 Happy Weekend – Enjoy – Play Ball!!!

  9. Don Says:

    Love the picture of the old mill so much so that I had to look into its history and find out more about it. I read that in the 1800’s the flour that was milled there was considered the best in the country and that the mill had burned down twice and been rebuilt. Looking at the picture of grasses/weeds brings a great feeling of serenity and the picture of the airliner, well having been in the airline industry for the better part of 35 years makes me think of work. The playground and ball park pictures bring to mind the grandkids. All great pictures to sooth the mind……except perhaps the airliner

    • Well, you did even more research than me given I didn’t seek out additional info about the mill. I did know, though, that it supposedly produced some of the best flour in the country.

      Sorry for the work reminder. Just scroll real quick past that image.

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    I love your candid reflections of everyday life, however, I’m not even tempted to be up there in that snow. Ha ha! I was out photographing a bit of ice two days ago… and this morning glorious rain fell. We’ve needed it so badly!

  11. Valerie Says:

    It’s fun to see pictures of the ballpark in winter. It’s always good to get out and experience the snow…and its good to know that spring will come again.

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    You’ve done a beautiful job at capturing a Minnesota winter

    • Thank you. Fortunately, winter is melting into spring this week. I cannot wait until we reach the 50s here in Minnesota in a few days.

      Meanwhile, I just texted my son in greater Boston. He reports blizzard conditions during yet another nor’easter.

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