Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The poetry of winter in the woods February 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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HERE IN THE NORTHLAND, Winter pens poetry upon trees. If only we pause to notice.



I noticed last week as I photographed the visual poetry that glimmered, layered, clung to tree branches within view of my backyard.



Freezing rain sluiced ice along branches like strings of diamonds draped upon the woods.



Then snow fell, icing the same branches in white.



Darkness emerged later with moody Winter unleashing roiling emotions.



Tangled. Twisted. Tumultuous.



But hope shone in the shelter of snowy evergreens, lovely in the gloaming of the day. I observed therein the loveliness a poet sees when words flow from the brain into layers of verses. There’s a feeling of satisfaction, of comfort, of accomplishment. And the light, oh, the light.




The sky, too, the setting for these poems of February, delights. Not when grey. But when blue, oh, so blue.



This is Winter’s poetry, written here upon the Minnesota landscape, if we but choose to see and read it.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Check back tomorrow for a post that contrasts this one with a wish for Winter to exit.


25 Responses to “The poetry of winter in the woods”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  2. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Beautiful pictures 💞 I found this on Facebook this morning and thought you’d get a click out of it. You had the perfect post to share it on today

    Just in case ya didn’t know…
    Minnesota became the 32nd state on May 11, 1858 and was originally settled by a lost tribe of Norwegians seeking refuge from the searing heat of Wisconsin ‘s winters.

    Minnesota gets it’s name from the Sioux Indian word “mah-nee-soo-tah,” meaning, “No, really… They eat fish soaked in lye.”

    The state song of Minnesota is “Someday the Vikings will… Aw, never mind.”

    The Mall of America in Bloomington , Minnesota covers 9.5 million square feet and has enough space to hold 185,000 idiot teenagers yapping away on cell phones.

    Madison, Minnesota is known as “the lutefisk capital of the world.” Avoid this city at all costs.

    “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was set in Minneapolis , Minnesota , and was Mary’s first real acting job since leaving the “Dick van Dyke Show. The show about a single woman’s struggle to find happiness in the big city was originally titled “Life Without Dick,” but that was changed for some reason.

    Downtown Minneapolis has an enclosed skyway system covering 52 blocks, allowing people to live, work, eat, and sleep without ever going outside. The only downside to this is that a Norwegian occasionally turns up missing.

    Cartoonist Charles M. Shultz was born in Minneapolis , Minnesota and grew up in St. Paul. He was the only artist to accurately depict the perfectly circular heads of Minnesota natives.

    The Hormel Company of Austin , Minnesota produces 6 million cans of Spam a year, even though no one actually eats it. Spam is a prized food in Japan & Hawaii–Spam sushi!!

    Minnesota license plates are blue & white and contain the phrase “Blizzards on the 4th of July – you get used to it.”

    Frank C. Mars, founder of the Mars Candy Co. was born in Newport, Minnesota . His 3 Musketeers candy bar originally contained three bars in one wrapper, each filled with a different flavor of nougat -chocolate, Spam and lutefisk.

    Tonka trucks continue to be manufactured in Minnetonka, Minnesota, despite the thousands of GI Joe dolls killed by them annually in rollover accidents. No airbags, no seat belts. These things are deathtraps, I tell ya!

    Author Laura Ingalls Wilder was raised at Walnut Grove, Minnesota, and was famous for writing the “Little House” series of books, as well as inventing the “Spam diet” which consists of looking at a plate of Spam until you lose your appetite. Much like the “lutefisk diet”

    The snowmobile was invented in Roseau , Minnesota so as to allow families a means of attending 4th of July picnics

    Minnesotans are almost indistinguishable from Wisconsinites. The only way to tell them apart is to ask if they voted for Mondale in ’84.

    Now… it’s up to you to forward this to all your friends If one of them does not forward it to others, he/she will be given an entrance pin to attend the Eelpout Festival in Walker, MN….in February —

    Cold is a relative thing ya know….

    At 65 degrees, Arizonans turn on the heat. People in Minnesota plant gardens.
    At 60, Californians shiver uncontrollably. People in Minnesota sunbathe.
    At 50, Italian & English cars won’t start. People in Minnesota drive with the windows down..
    At 40, Georgians don coats, thermal underwear, gloves, wool hats. People in Minnesota throw on a flannel shirt.
    At 35, New York landlords finally turn up the heat. People in Minnesota have the last cookout before it gets cold.
    At 20, People in Miami all die. Minnesotans close their windows.
    At 0, Californians fly away to Mexico . People in Minnesota get out their winter coats.
    At 10 below zero, Hollywood disintegrates. The Girl Scouts in Minnesota are selling cookies door to door.
    At 20 below, Washington DC runs out of hot air. (Ya think? Nah.). People in Minnesota let their dogs sleep indoors.
    At 30 below, Santa Claus abandons the North Pole. Minnesotans get upset because they can’t start the snowmobile.
    At 40 below, ALL atomic motion stops. People in Minnesota start saying…”Cold enough for ya, eh?”
    At 50 below, heck freezes over. Minnesota public schools will open 2 hours late.

    • Thanks for making me laugh this morning with this Minnesota list. Just last evening I as thinking to myself, as friends were talking about the “cold temps of 60 degrees” Arizona, how much I would love to have that high temp about now.

      I’ve seen Girl Scouts standing outside Walmart in the winter selling cookies. They ought to get some special merit badge for doing that.

  3. Jackie Says:

    I noticed the ice coating on the trees as well, It’s especially beautiful against the blue sky. I have noticed a transformation with you and winter over the last few years. I know it’s not your favorite but you are choosing to see the beauty….especially in your writing.

  4. A beautiful pause! I love the winter bones as trees.. c

  5. It’s so beautiful. We are currently in Williams, AZ, just outside the Grand Canyon. We were treated with 8 inches of snow the other day–it was breathtaking. It’s not ideal to be in an RV in this weather, but just being among the still quiet and layer of white was reminiscent of my childhood, and it renewed and invigorated in a way I had forgotten. Thankfully, though, we can move from the snow and temperatures in a few short days, unlike the long winter months that seem to drag on up your way. I love how you see the beauty in everything and are able to share it so it can be felt by all!

    • That seems like a lot of snow for Arizona. Is that abnormal? I wouldn’t even think snow fell in Arizona, which shows how little I know about that state.

      I have to make a conscious effort to find the beauty in winter. It’s a struggle. Tomorrow I’ll present a not-as-much favorable post on this lengthy season of cold and snow.

      • I think it is a lot of snow for Arizona, but we are higher up in elevation near the Grand Canyon and it snows frequently here. Most of it has melted off with the sunshine and we are only left with freezing temperatures and a little wind. It was beautiful to see the Canyon dusted with snow, though (there’s a future blog about that). I’m thankful we can drink in the beauty and then leave it behind. I like chilly, but cold is a whole ‘nuther story. 🙂

      • That said, avoid coming to Minnesota anytime from November – April. Well, we have had snow in May and in October. But that’s not common.

        Your snow in Arizona experience sounds about right.

  6. Valerie Says:

    Lovely words, well said.

  7. Littlesundog Says:

    We had a similar icing here last week. I’ve yet to get my photos posted. Somehow, the camera just doesn’t do justice to the real sparkle and glimmer of the trees. I do love those snowy evergreens. If I was a bird, that would be a lovely shelter.

  8. Brenda R Says:

    I too appreciate the beauty of the winter season as I travel on the 91 miles of my rural mail route. Last Saturday I woke up to see a very heavy hoar frost had been deposited on everything it could cling to. I snapped a few pics of the white frosting covering trees, bushes, mailboxes, & fence line. The only thing missing was the sunshine & blue sky to contrast with the white & add some sparkle! I especially like how the heavy frost makes long needle pine trees look like bursts of white fireworks! I remember Christmas morning a few years ago when we didn’t have any snow on the ground but woke to a heavy hoar frost and I said this is better than having snow! It was a winter wonderland!!

  9. Sue Ready Says:

    I hope you will take the words from this posting and turn them into a poem. You are so adept at taking a visual image from the landscape and with your sparse words make the images come alive. .

  10. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    Beautiful! I noticed the light this week, too, and last week we had the ice-coated tree limbs around here. It was so gorgeous. The other bit of outdoor poetry in our neighborhood is the way the owls are hooting right now. I wrote about them last week and am still hearing them in the half-light of dusk and dawn.

  11. Emily Brisse Says:

    These photos were so beautiful, I had to leave a comment (after a long long dry spell). Glad to hear that spring has visited you these last days (us too in the metro). The sun! Feels so good. And yet that burst of white over the weekend was okay by me for all the reasons you’ve captured here. Hope you are well, Audrey!

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