Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reconnecting to southwestern Minnesota, root place of my creativity May 22, 2018

Near Morgan, Minnesota.


THERE IS NO PLACE, none, that I’d rather be this time of year than in rural southwestern Minnesota. It is the place of my heart, of my memories, of everything that shaped me into the person, the writer and photographer that I am today.



This place of wide skies and dark rich soil in some of Minnesota’s best farm land claims me still, decades after I left. I left not because I disliked this place, but for education and opportunity. Like so many of my generation.


In a reminder of decades past, a vintage tractor works the land on the edge of Delhi.


When I return to visit family here, I feel an ache of absence, that longing for a return to the familiar.



I realize those who’ve never lived on the prairie often fail to recognize its value, its beauty, its power in inspiring creativity. To many, even my own children, southwestern Minnesota seems the middle of nowhere. But to me, this land has always inspired. And it’s somewhere. Home.



Between Echo and Delhi.


A long familiar landmark tree along Minnesota State Highway 19 near the Belview corner.


When you’ve lived in a place so stark, in a place that exposes you to the elements, where life evolves around the land, you learn to appreciate the details. Like the endless wind. The spaciousness of land and sky. The scent of tilled soil. Rows of corn erupting green from the earth. A lone tree along a highway.





Acre after acre after acre across this land, I take in the rural scenes of farmers working fields, rushing to get crops in during a particularly late planting season.


Near Morgan, Minnesota.


I notice vehicles kicking dust along gravel roads,


Parked near the grain elevator in Morgan.


small town grain elevators,



a school bus splashing color into the landscape. I see it all in this place, this middle of somewhere.


A rural-themed license plate on a vehicle driving past Echo on a recent weekday morning. I confirmed with writer and photographer Ruth Klossner that this was her vehicle. She was on her way to interview a source for a magazine article. Ruth collects cow items of all sorts and opens the doors of her Bernadotte home for visitors to view the massive collection.


This is my joy, to each spring return to my Minnesota prairie roots, to reconnect to the land, to embrace the birth source of my creativity.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


30 Responses to “Reconnecting to southwestern Minnesota, root place of my creativity”

  1. Barb W Says:

    Ruth Klossner, I know of her…my ancestors are from Bernadette & Fairfax area. She is quite the lady!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Your love of the prairie is evident in your photos. I believe there is beauty in every place if we only take the time to look for it. From the mountains to the beaches to the prairies – they all charm us.

  3. I have lived in multiple states and have traveled too. The one major thing that matters most to me is home is where I am at with my greatest someones 🙂 It keeps me grounded and connected. There are a few places along the way that I have planted roots though that have a special place in my heart and my soul. The one thing I will always CRAVE is that bond to the Great Outdoors – the natural, the water, the air and light, etc! It speaks to my whole being. Beautiful Post Today that has BRIGHTEN My Day – Thank You. Happy Day Indeed – Enjoy

  4. mary redding Says:

    This article struck home ! My Dad’s family came from Milroy . Farmers . When he became ill, we moved to Redwood Falls. I love the prarie, farmland and river valleys . In 1990, I moved to an acreage between Walker and Park Rapids. I worked at the State Hospital called Ah Ghaw Ching. 200 acres on Leech Lake , owned by the state since the early 1920’s.
    Everytime I got a few days of vacation, I would rush “home”. Home to the praire and hilly and flat farmland. Home to the river valleys which I loved to explore. My friends couldn’t understand it. Here I was, living on 14 acres of lush green forrest….” vacation land ” as they called it. Chippewa National Forrest
    several miles away..great for exploring which I did.But
    I always wanted to be “home” in my neck of the woods!

  5. Caryl Larson Says:

    I love to visit Northern Minnesota,or the Black Hills, but there are two many trees. I’m a flat-lander. I want to see the horizon.

  6. Bernadette Says:

    Thanks for taking me back home electronically; I hope to be there in person in June. Can’t wait.

  7. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    The love that you have for the prairie is beautifully stated here.

  8. Almost Iowa Says:

    My favorite thing about farm country is watching the landscape transform from snow-white to seed bed black, from bright green to deep green and then to gold and brown and eventually back to white.

    That said…. let’s all be patient on the roads and keep in mind that big machines often need to swerve to the right before making a left-hand turn.

  9. Phil Holum Says:

    I like to think that those of us who’ve lived on the prairie might have more appreciation for the subtle beauty of our surroundings, we see beyond the dramatic.

  10. valeriebollinger Says:

    I’m so glad you are close enough to you childhood home to visit it often.
    I read in a novel one time about a pioneer woman moving to the prairie and learning to love the wind. I’ve never felt that but I think of it often when the wind is bloiwing. 😉
    I leave tomorrow for Oshkosh.

  11. Audrey — We do live in a wonderful part of Minnesota ( I love all the Minnesota: the lakes, the trees, the shoreline of Lake Superior. Next time you’re back home stop by the museum for a visit! The corn is starting to come up and you can see the green rows. That is always exciting for me. “Who plants a seed beneath the sod and waits to see, believes in God” Hope to see you this summer!

    • On our drive back to sw Minnesota last Thursday, I noticed the corn emerging. This warm weather certainly helps.

      Thank you for the invitation to revisit the Minnesota Machinery Museum in Hanley Falls. It seems like every time I return to sw MN, I’m coming for a purpose–funeral, family gathering, to visit my mom in the care center, etc. It’s never just to explore. Maybe it’s time for just a leisurely trip.

  12. I love this Audrey. Your love for this place comes out in every picture, every sentence, beautifully. ❤ ❤ ❤

  13. Bella Says:

    Using all your senses heightens the emotions you feel standing on the land called home. Thanks for sharing your astute observations which indeed do fuel your creativity through your writing..

  14. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great pictures! I especially like the school bus mixed with the green grass and brown earth. All too fast that view will change

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