Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

About those elephant ears September 4, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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MY THREE ADULT CHILDREN MAY SEE each other only once a year. But their love for one another remains. Strong. Unaltered by time and distance. Bound by shared memories.


At the Minnesota State Fair. Photo by Miranda.


Take the photo my second daughter, Miranda, texted from the Minnesota State Fair on Saturday afternoon to her brother in Boston. The photo of concession stands is meaningless to most. But not to our family.

You see, back when Caleb was much younger and took words literally, he could not understand the serving of elephant ears at the fair. He considered those poor elephants with the missing ears and how awful the thought…until his dad and sisters explained. (I was smart enough to stay home and avoid the masses of fair-goers.) These elephant ears, they clarified, are sugar and cinnamon loaded pastries that, well, resemble elephant ears.

This fair story remains entrenched in our family’s collective memory. So I was not surprised that Miranda, back in Minnesota for the long weekend to visit and attend the State Fair with her sister, photographed the elephant ears concession stand. (I was smart enough to babysit my granddaughter and avoid the masses of fair-goers).

Caleb took his sister’s teasing in stride, now all these years later laughing with the rest of us at the elephant ears story. It is these types of family memories that bring joy. I have five siblings and, believe me, not all resurrected memories bring joy, especially when versions vary and some stories are best left untold.

This story is not one of those hurtful remembrances, but rather one that connects us and takes us back to a time when we were a family of five living under the same roof. We were not separated by nearly 1,500 miles or several hundred miles or 50 miles. I miss those days of togetherness. I know that life goes on. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss my kids. I do. Every day.

So when my second daughter drove to Minnesota this weekend to visit her sister and niece for the first time in more than a year, I was over-the-moon happy. The sisters needed this time together. And I love that they thought of their brother while at the State Fair. They thought of me, too, returning with a bag of sugar-laden mini donuts. They remembered just how much I love that fair treat, a memory pulled from their childhood of attending the Rice County Fair.

This is the stuff of family love. Elephant ears and mini donuts. Sweet memories that endure time and distance.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “About those elephant ears”

  1. valeriebollinger Says:

    It’s wonderful to hear your stories of family love and fond memories. I’m grateful for our own loving memories in our family.

    I love those mini-donuts!

  2. Littlesundog Says:

    I’ve told you before how I admire the love of your family. Your “mother heart” longs for connection, and aren’t you fortunate in this day and age when technology makes that so easy? I enjoyed this post… it’s that time for state fairs all across the country! I’ll be going to the Oklahoma state fair in a week or two, and I think we’ll take in the Texas state fair in October the same weekend that OU and UT play the rival football game.

  3. How fun that they could attend and laugh together- and include their brother!

  4. Bella Says:

    I have a recipe for elephant ears if you want to try making them

  5. Marilyn Donnell Says:

    Groan! Missing elephant ears big time, now that you mention it.

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    I felt a little emotional reading this post….sister getting together…thinking of their brother so far away, I’m just so glad Miranda was able to visit and share some time with Amber & Izzy. I’m like you… I would have stayed to watch the grand babies too. I haven’t been to the Minnesota State Fair since I was in High school.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What a sweet memory! It’s funny how kids interpret things. I once thought cauliflower was cow food and refused to eat it.

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