Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From southern Minnesota: Winter’s here, so I may as well embrace it January 2, 2019

A view of the Faribault Woolen Mill from the trail along the Cannon River in North Alexander Park.


WINTER IN MINNESOTA brings challenges. Ice. Snow. Cold. Sometimes I feel like simply curling up under a fleece throw with a good book and staying indoors until spring. But that’s neither realistic nor good for me.

So I determine that, despite the less than ideal weather, I need to get outside and get moving. Embrace winter the best I can.


A crack snakes through the semi frozen Cannon River in Faribault.


Recently Randy and I decided to hike at River Bend Nature Center, one of our favorite outdoor spots in Faribault. Although I mentioned the possibility of icy trails, we still opted to go there. Well, one shuffling walk down a paved trail across patches of ice and snow and I’d had enough slipperiness.

Yes, I’m a tad paranoid about falling given I’ve endured two broken bones in the past 1 ½ years, neither from falling on snow or ice-covered anything. I’m not risking broken bones simply to walk outside in the winter for recreational pleasure.


Randy follows the city trail along the Cannon River, the Faribault Woolen Mill in the distance.


I suggested instead that we head to a city trail which hugs the Cannon River in Faribault’s North Alexander Park. I was pretty certain the city would have cleared the paved path. I was right.




The outstretched American flag in the distance shows the strength of the wind on the day we walked the trail.



So, despite a bitter wind whipping across the water, we walked and I searched for photo ops. Winter offers far less of those. But I managed to grab some images before my fingers got too cold to further expose them to the elements.





It wasn’t a particularly long walk. But, still, I stretched my legs, observed nature and appreciated the glint of sunshine across patches of open water. And I wondered, why are those geese still hanging around? I’d be outta here if I had their wings.


The trail offers a vantage point to view vintage signage on the Faribault Woolen Mill building.


TELL ME: If you live in a cold weather state, how do you embrace the outdoors in winter? Or don’t you?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


24 Responses to “From southern Minnesota: Winter’s here, so I may as well embrace it”

  1. Your pictures made me cold. Good job. 🙂 There is beauty in the winter as well as the milder seasons. I think you just have to look a little bit harder for it and dress a little bit warmer.

  2. Audrey- I was wondering if you thought about ski poles for your hiking? Reason why I ask, is that they would help stability on those icy trails.

    Nice winter pictures. I think your idea of wrapping yourself in a woolen blanket with a good book to read until Spring is a wonderful idea. Who cares about practical.😊

  3. Claudette Says:

    It’s usually about how you dress. Long johns are my friends, and I don’t care who knows it, and not just to brave the outdoor elements, but sitting in old-fashioned rinks, too. (Toronto has a lot if old rinks…) 😉

    I like the pictures, lovely idea. 😊☕

    • Snow boots are my go-too footwear in winter. Rarely do I leave the house without lacing them on during the months of ice and snow. But, yes, if I was sitting in a rink, I would wear long johns also. I last wore long johns when ringing bells outside for two hours for the Salvation Army in early December.

  4. I moved to a warmer climate – ha! Every place has its weather though and its trade offs. What is it about watching birds land? – love that capture. Happy New Year 🙂

  5. Jackie Says:

    Pretty sure you already know my answer to this question. I personally love the beauty of winter, not so much the “cold”, but that comes with winter so I bundle up and go with it. I have seen you evolve over the years Audrey from despising winter to coming to terms with it and finding the good in winter. I always enjoy your winter photos! Commitments with “parent things” has kept me busy over the last few months and I haven’t been able to get out with my camera…. I just need to make time 🙂

    • The interesting thing is that I really loved winter as a child. It was a lot of fun to run across snowdrifts, to slide down hills, to build forts, to throw snowballs. Then I grew up and it wasn’t as much fun dealing with icy roads and snow removal, etc. When my kids were little I relearned how to enjoy winter. And then I went through that period when I really didn’t much like it at all. Now I’m in a middle spot of not fully embracing winter but also not disliking it quite as much.

  6. mskayleejt Says:

    I was born and raised in south Minnesota and when I got older I couldn’t stand it. I don’t think I ever got used to it, I just delt with it haha. I live in San Diego now so I don’t have to worry. My blood has for sure thinned out because it’s 55 here and I’m freezing. (I know I’m being a baby.)

    • Good for you to move to a place that’s a better fit for you. You’re not a baby; you’re just being honest.

      Welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots. I’m happy to take you back to your home state, even if you don’t want to be here in winter. 🙂

  7. Valerie Says:

    I try to embrace winter too, walking, cross country skiing, snow-shoeing…But the older I get the harder it is to go out in the cold. I do not like ice! If the sidewalks are icy I tend to go over to the colleges to walk…they keep their sidewalks clean from snow and ice.

  8. Gunny Says:

    Try driving a motorcycle through a snow storm! I got snow mobile boots, scarf, thinsulated jackets, gloves with dish washing gloves pulled over on it and wearing a rain suite (which eventually froze and cracked – then fell apart) and zip on outter pants not to mention using a fairing and a helmet! It was a long lonely COLD drive!

    Hot coffee, good soup, warm clothes and a fire in a pot-bellied stove to warm my thick socks clad frozen feet. I did have to seek other company when the other hotel guest mentioned the idiot motorcycle drivers who fell off their bikes after driving 20 miles on glaze ice. We were 1/4 mile from warm, dry pavement!!!)

    • What, Gunny? Why would you drive a motorcycle through a snowstorm? Is this the recent one? I’ve never even seen anyone in Minnesota ride a bike in a snowstorm.

      I’m glad you survived. That’s quite a story.

      • Gunny Says:

        In the family, this event is known as “The Snowflake 500”. Brother and I met at Tucson, Arizona in the Winter. Problem is he had a girl on his mind and headed North, We ended up in Flagstaff, AR dust in time for the Highway patrol to close I-40 going east to all except 4x4s. Rather than go back South due to rains and snows, we headed west! Right into a snowfall! The glaze ice occurred on the eastern side of a small California town Julian. Up around 4,000 feet altitude. After that, I told my male companion he had better marry that girl as I was NOT going out on a motorcycle with him during the Winter – EVER! He did marry the girl about 2 years later.

      • Oh, Gunny, you are such a good storyteller.

  9. Lovely photos, Audrey. I like that you ended them with the shot of the word “Blankets” on the side of the building! 🙂 Cold here too. I’m ready for spring!

  10. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Typically I wouldn’t go outdoors in the winter unless I needed to go somewhere but with a puppy that needs to go out every two to three hours round the clock I haven’t had a choice. I’ve been wearing a lot of the warm woolly things I have made over the years. I even knit a ski mask after going out at 3 AM with -20° windchills.

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