Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Managing an especially cold & snowy Minnesota winter February 15, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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My neighbor across the street moved and put his house on the market several months ago, but has yet to sell it. Now he’s clearing snow from two properties. If you’re looking for a house to buy in Faribault and want to be my neighbor…


THE SNOW KEEPS PILING up here in Minnesota in storm after storm after storm. And when snow isn’t falling, brutal cold settles in. This weather is taking its toll, physically and mentally.


The snow piles continue to grow in Faribault, here at a gas station along Minnesota State Highway 60/Fourth Street.


We long for warmth and sunshine and a day without snow removal. As snow mountains obscure vision at the ends of driveways, sidewalks and street corners, clearing the snow becomes more taxing.


Special snow removal equipment works on the Cedar Avenue bridge over the Minnesota River on Wednesday afternoon.


This snow-filled truck and snow blowing tractor creep along Interstate 35 in Burnsville Wednesday afternoon.


During lulls between storms, snow removal crews work to widen roadways, clear snow from bridges and shoulders.


Ice dams and icicles on our house.


And then there are those ice dams forming along rooflines. I’ve never seen anything like it, the length of some icicles extending to the ground. Randy has yet to tackle the task of shoveling snow from our house and garage roofs. He can barely keep up with clearing snow from our place and that of a neighbor after a long day of work.


Passersby stopped to help push my elderly neighbor’s car up her snowy driveway during a recent storm. Randy warned her of the ice underneath, but…


A recent commute home from Northfield took him nearly an hour rather than the usual 22 minutes due to treacherous roads in a snowstorm. As an automotive machinist, he doesn’t have the option of working from home. If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid.

Schools across the state closed an unprecedented number of times in past weeks.


On a day when highways were clear, Randy and I came upon a five-vehicle crash on Interstate 35 in Burnsville. Vehicles in ditches and endless crashes have marked this winter.


Any plans are tentative, based on weather and road conditions. Travel during bad winter weather and you risk going in the ditch, getting in an accident, becoming stuck in metro gridlock or stranded in a rural area. No, thanks. I’ll stay home and read a book.


Snow blows from the top of a semi tractor trailer Wednesday afternoon along Interstate 35 north of Faribault.


All of these challenges make winter sometimes difficult to navigate. But then I read something that causes me to pull my head out of the snowbank and smile. Like the story in the Faribault Daily News about local high school teacher Dave Wieber whose physics students video recorded kindergartners sledding. With the video data collected, they determine how fast the average student slides down the hill. How fun is that? I love when teachers get creative, make learning fun and exciting.


The scene exiting Interstate 35 into Faribault onto Minnesota State Highway 21 from the north.


And I love when a community celebrates winter with an event like last weekend’s Faribault Flannel Formal. Although I didn’t attend, I’ve seen enough photos to know this is exactly the type of event Minnesotans need in February. Flannel attire, music, drinks, contests, conversation. And hotdish.


A neighborhood near my home, along Fourth Avenue.


When I think about it, fun and creativity help many of us manage winter. New York state songwriter Linda Bonney Olin, in her song Praise God From Whom All Blizzards Flow, is a great example. She uses humor to write her “doxology for those blessed with wintry weather and a sense of humor.” It’s well worth your read. Click here and be thankful for shovels, gloves and plows. And the ability to still smile in this longest of winters.


© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


35 Responses to “Managing an especially cold & snowy Minnesota winter”

  1. Do you think all of that could melt for my return to MN at the end of March? I remember last year! Snowy cold and not a chance to fish or camp. 😕

  2. I remember well all of the winters I have spent in the midwest and I do not miss them at all. Growing up in Ohio we had our share and my long years in Iowa made me even more fervent in my desire to leave the massive snow. I don’t mind a little but not like you guys seem to have had this year. Hang in there. Spring has to be just around the corner.

  3. Littlesundog Says:

    I avoid traveling up north during the winter months. I admit I’ve gone soft since moving to the south. When we do get a little snow or ice here, it’s melted within days, so it’s a bit of a novelty that I enjoy.

  4. I can’t even imagine. While it looks beautiful from a distance, I know the repeated days on days have to start making a person a little stir crazy. I love how everyone helps one another out in the thick of it all.

  5. Gunny Says:

    Third picture down, the truck looks exactly like my truck – minus the window stickers and bumper and tailgate ornaments. Love the view but not the cold or driving among others who do not know how to drive in that mess. My wife lives in fear that I will take to the road in the snow. Along I-40 headed East from New Mexico to Arkansas, I hit a blizzard that abated and froze the roadways and then hit again. Often times I was reduced to 35 MPH but I had a deadline to meet. The car I was driving was a rear wheel drive. We passed jack-knifed semis, cars in the bar ditch, in the median all of which my wife thought would be our fate. Did not happen. However, NOW, my vehicle is a 4X4. When I bought it, the salesman asked do you really need 4X4. I told him “No, I just need it really bad when I find myself someplace I do not want to be!”

    • Ha, ha, great comment to the salesman. My husband will tell you that some who drive trucks and other such vehicles often become over-confident on snowy and icy roads and more often end up in the ditch. He saw a pick-up and trailer in the ditch the other day on his drive home from work.

  6. Good lord, girl! When are you guys going to catch a break? !!

  7. Valerie Says:

    I had not heard that song before…fun lyrics!

  8. Gunny Says:

    Audrey, I use my 4X4 mostly in 2 wheel drive. In rain I use the auto 4X4 and generally drive at least 5 MPH lower than the posted speed limit. Since I am responsible for my trucks repairs, I take it easy on my truck!

    Now, while you are all oohing and awwhing about the snow, I will tell you, today, I donned a t-shirt and long slacks (weather is good for shorts) and pulled out my riding lawn mower and mowed up 6 bags of leaves – and the leaves have yet to start falling as they do every Spring. Life is tough in Texas – but someone has to do it. Of course ya’ll will be laughing when in August we start getting straight 100+ temps as we here in the South start seeking shelter that has ben graced with air conditioning!

  9. Bernadette Says:

    I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to sing the original hymn with a straight face after reading Linda Olin’s winter lyrics – what a delight. Hope your area catches a snow break soon!

  10. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Our choir director gave us a time change ditty to “God of Grace, God of Glory”, I think the Doxology getting a little humor can’t hurt. We were brown until the last two weeks, just freezing cold and tired of cancellations. We are pretty white with fluffy snow and roofs needing serious help. Time to go to the Como flower show…and Colorado next week for a few days. 10 day looks great. Twisted an ankle last weekend. Not talking about that! I’m blessed. Take care…..

  11. This is the Minnesota winter I long for every year, but seldom get. It has been an exceptionally snowy winter indeed. With the snow comes all those things mentioned in your post. I appreciate all the hard work the crews are doing to clear the snow, but I bet they are loving it…. after all it’s their job. Just like little kids with their big toys. Stay safe my friend !

  12. Susan Ready Says:

    Have you heard of the book by Laura Ingalls Wilder The Long Winter? It might be worth a reread to pass the time away when being indoors favors being outdoors. It all seems so endless for Minnesotans.

    • It’s been years since I’ve read The Long Winter. My hometown is only 20 miles from Walnut Grove, so I grew up with these books. Wilder is one of my favorite authors and it’s because she appreciates every detail in life and her surroundings. She is true prairie.

  13. Thanks for sharing the link to “Praise God from Whom All Blizzards Flow,” Audrey. I just wrote it and posted on Facebook January 18, and it’s already been shared thousands of times across the US and Canada (even as far as Papua New Guinea!). You wouldn’t believe the number of churches who’ve contacted me with requests to use it, including quite a few chilly Lutherans. 😀
    We’re getting blasted with wind in New York today. Apparently Quiana has plenty of power left over from her trip through Minnesota.
    Be safe, and God bless.

    • You are welcome, Linda. It was such a fitting song for this winter. I love that you can write about winter with such a graceful sense of humor. I’ve suggested to my friend Kevin, who plays organ at my Lutheran church, that he contact you for permission to use the song.

      I’m sorry to hear you’re getting blasted today in New York. I didn’t know the storm had a name. We are still feeling the fall-out today with nearly all schools closed in southeastern Minnesota and interstates still closed. Many motorists had to be rescued. The National Guard was called out. People had to stay in shelters. On and on it goes.

      Right now I’m working on a post showing photos from my neighborhood. I’m trying to give folks a perspective on the sheer amount of snow here.

      Stay safe. Stay home. And thanks for reaching out to me here in the comments section. Welcome.

      • It’s fun to write a light-hearted verse from time to time, but my “real” hymn texts are the work of my heart. I would happily gift a PDF copy of my last book, Now Sings My Soul-Musicians Edition, to Kevin or any other church that enjoys singing new words set to familiar tunes. Just pop me a request on the contact form at my website, and mention what church you’re requesting it for.

      • That is so sweet, Linda. I’ll email Kevin and have him complete the contact form if he’s interested.

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