Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Lunchbox love in January January 30, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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HE DROPPED HIS BLACK LUNCHBOX onto the kitchen counter upon his arrival home. “I have something for you,” Randy said, flipping latches to unlock the box.


Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of cheesecake.


I anticipated a sweet. Randy occasionally grabs a birthday treat for me from work. Not that I need sweets—because who does—but I enjoy the occasional piece of left-over cheesecake, square of apple pie bars, slice of chocolate cake. When Randy brings me a sweet rather than simply tells me about it, I am particularly happy. Already I craved whatever he’d stashed away for me.

“Here, I brought you spring,” he said, reaching inside.

Puzzlement flushed my face. Lemon bars? Rhubarb pie? What did he have inside that lunchbox?



Then Randy handed me a dead Monarch butterfly. Brittle. Wings folded. A dead butterfly when I’d expected dessert?

I regrouped my thoughts, put my disappointment on hold and reconsidered. In the midst of a record-breaking cold snap and recent snowfall (which required joint snowfall removal efforts that very morning), Randy decided I needed a glimpse of spring. Or, more accurately, summer, the season butterflies emerge. How sweet is that?

But where did he find this Monarch in January in Minnesota? Randy works as an automotive machinist. He found the butterfly—along with acorns and leaves—inside a cylinder head dropped off by a customer. More often he finds a mouse nest or evidence of mice.


The forecast for Minnesota on a Twin Cities TV station at noon-ish Tuesday.


He may not have given me what I expected. But Randy gave me exactly what I needed on an especially cold evening in late January. He gifted me with hope. That spring always follows winter. And that, even after nearly 37 years of marriage, love still offers sweet surprises.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


31 Responses to “Lunchbox love in January”

  1. Wow…what a nice find in the middle of your deep freeze. I would say that was pretty sweet!

  2. Susan Griebel Says:

    Very sweet!

  3. Beth Ann Says:

    I love it ! Notice the exclamation mark. It was a sweet, sweet reminder that spring and summer will come eventually. Perfect gift and less calories than a piece of cheesecake.

  4. How special that you know he thinks about you throughout his work day–enough to bring you something unique and thoughtful. Hope you guys are staying warm–praying during this cold freeze.

  5. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I’m sitting here smiling at how you turned no-dessert-dead-butterfly into a thoughtful gesture. Now that is knowing how to practice gratitude, remember that a loving gesture looks different for everyone, and taking a breath before understanding what is right in front of you. Stay warm today, Audrey!

    • Thank you, Kathleen.

      I just heard from my daughter (who lives in your community) that their furnace is struggling to keep up, with the current temp inside their home at 62 degrees. With a newborn in the house, this is concerning. If I was OK with them driving the hour to get here, I’d say, “Come and stay with us.” But I’m not OK with them being out and about.

      • Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

        Oooh….I hope they can get the furnace repair person there soon. Send me an email if they run into great difficulty – we have a guest room downstairs and there’s a fireplace on that level, too.

      • I’ll keep you in mind, Kathleen. Thank you. The daughter said she looked on Facebook and many people are having the same issue. Randy planned to call her.

  6. Littlesundog Says:

    What a romantic Randy is… and he knows the girl he’s always loved. The butterfly is a perfect gift.

  7. Brenda R Says:

    He did bring you a touch of spring! I closed my eyes and pictured green grass and butterflies flitting among the ditch grasses on a warm breeze! The sun out aids this vision of spring today! I was just glad I’m not out delivering mail today- my vision would be frozen!

  8. That Randy, he’s such a great guy! Who needs the sweet treat when you have the hope for spring right in front of you. 🙂

  9. Bella Says:

    well the dessert caught my attention as looks yummy but the butterfly inside the lunchbox symbolizing hope and spring well this image begs to be turned into a poetic verse

  10. Randy seems like a great guy. Good thing he didn’t bring the cylinder head as well! I do the same for my wife and son with sweets. Nicole would have appreciated, though with some sadness, the butterfly as well.

  11. Valerie Says:

    What a fun story…and an interesting surprise!

  12. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    Well that’s better than mice. Did they fall in there or did a critter hoard them there?

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