Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

An October drive in the Minnesota countryside October 16, 2018

In search of fall colors in rural southern Minnesota.


SATURDAY WAS THE DAY, we decided. The day to meander and view fall colors in the Rice County area following a week of nothing but grey skies. Weather forecasters promised half a day of sunshine before clouds moved in again. Yard work could wait. Randy and I needed to enjoy autumn.


Colorful Seventh Street in Faribault nearing the intersection of Second Avenue.


So, with optimism, we headed out of Faribault along Seventh Street, a roadway bordered by beautiful fall foliage. The sun shone bright during our late morning exit. I was excited, remembering the beauty of last fall, especially around area lakes.


This treeline along Kelly Lake showed us some fall color.


But as we drove, we soon realized that our expectations did not match reality. The leaves are not nearly as colorful as last season. At least not on this day. I could choose to be disappointed—and I was for quite awhile—or I could choose to look for beauty beyond splashes of fall colors.







Place me on a gravel road and I will find something that appeals to me whether a farm site, a field, a cluster of cattle. Just being in the country brings me joy. And peace.







I know some would find this time just driving through the rural landscape to be a waste of hours. But not me. There is a need deep inside me to occasionally reconnect with the land, to simply escape the closeness of gridded city streets. I need to follow gravels roads. I need to see tractors and barns, even artsy rural mailboxes. It’s difficult to explain to someone without rural roots.



But for me, the land comforts. It rises up like a poem, wrapping my soul in words and images that have shaped—are still shaping—me.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “An October drive in the Minnesota countryside”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the cows. I am partial to cows even if these are not holsteins which are my favorite. 🙂

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    The foliage along Kelly Lake is/was(?) amazing but my fave is the “pumpkin post”!!!!! It’s clear definition against the sky background (gray) is lovely. BUT……what a difference a day makes! We got 2″+ of snow Sunday afternoon (as we were watching a sunny, warm NASCAR race!)………

  3. Love the pumpkin photo – plus the cows are pretty cool too 🙂 Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Rachel Eggleston Says:

    Audrey, I have always enjoyed your blog and the memories it retrieves from my childhood in small town Nebraska. Thanks for all those throw backs to days spent in a farming community there. Didn’t always appreciate it but sure would love to be back there now.

    • Oh, Rachel, you are so sweet. I, too, have gained a new appreciation for my rural roots through the decades. My upbringing has deeply influenced my writing and my photography. I expect we share many childhood experiences. Thank you for reading.

  5. That last line: “It rises up like a poem, wrapping my soul in words and images that have shaped—are still shaping—me.” wow. You are the poet Dear Heart. Beautiful, just like you and your posts. 🙂

  6. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Beautiful images Audrey, I agree that the colors are not as vibrant there this year. Tomorrow my dad and I are taking a drive south of Rochester, we will see if we can find some colors in “God’s country” as dad calls it 🙂 but if not I know we will find plenty to see in the country…. on those gravel roads!

  7. Lovely photos! That mailbox belongs to my son’s art teacher! This is my first time on your blog and I was pleasantly surprised to see that as I was scrolling through your post!

    • Welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots, Krystal! I’m happy to have you here as a reader.

      Does Stanley still teach at Gustavus or elsewhere? I googled All Paper Recycling World Art Project after reading that on the mailbox. It’s quite intriguing.

  8. Bella Says:

    lovely fall photo travelogue out and about the countryside All our colors have flown away with winds, rain and snow. Not a pretty autumn this year.

  9. Valerie Says:

    Fun and artsy photos of the wonderful countryside, and poetic words. Thanks Audrey.

  10. Littlesundog Says:

    You know I love the country drives. Just last weekend FD and I took a drive to the northwest to check out the cotton fields. Trees are just beginning to go yellow, gold and red. It’s going to be a spectacular autumn. Hopefully we can manage more country tours.

  11. Erin Honken Says:

    I was on vacation last week and missed your Oct. 16 post. Zipping through emails today – cleaning up my inbox and the first photo of this post caught my eye! It’s my farm!!! 🙂 The two big Oaks in the front yard are always underwhelming in Oct. We don’t have many stunning autumn trees – but we have lovely picturesque pond in the back! I’ve slowly been expanding my flower garden. This year I took the leap and started selling floral bouquet CSA memberships. Next time you’re out my way, drive in! July-September we’re in full bloom out here! -erin

    • If I remember correctly, I saw your last name on a mailbox and even discussed with Randy whether this could be your farm. But I don’t recall how we got there. I need directions. See my “about page” for an email address (if you don’t have my personal address) and email me. Or if you have a website, go ahead and add it here in the comments.

      Congratulations on taking that leap to sell floral bouquets. What types of flowers do you grow? I’d love to hear more and would love to stop by sometime next summer while we are on one of our jaunts.

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Great pictures but for the life of me I can’t figure out why people put pumpkins on fence posts. The cows look like they were enjoying some lunch.

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