Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Defining spring in Minnesota March 27, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , ,

Looking skyward in my Faribault, Minnesota, backyard Monday morning.


HOW DO YOU define spring?

By the calendar? By tulips, daffodils, crocuses popping color into the landscape? By warmth?


A sure sign of spring in Minnesota: More motorcyclists on the roads, as reflected in this photo taken late Saturday afternoon.


Whatever your measurement of spring, it’s likely as personal as you are and reflects wherever you live.

I’ve lived all of my life in Minnesota, a state associated with cold and snow. Long winters. And this winter, especially, has been long with way above average snowfall in February. Finally, in recent weeks, temps warmed and snow melted with amazing speed. It’s beginning to feel and look more spring-like. Temps today are predicted to reach into the 60s.


Emerging in a south-facing flowerbed in my backyard Monday morning. Every year my tulips start to grow and then snow falls in April and, well, that’s not good. I expect no different this year.


First signs of spring for me may seem atypical. I look beyond flower bulb leaves emerging from the cover of leaf mulch.


A cloud of dust envelopes the street sweeper cleaning Willow Street Monday morning.


I see spring in the street sweeper roaring past my house, sucking up sand, dirt and other winter debris from roadways.



I see spring in our Christmas tree now uncovered, dried and dead, from a snowbank.


Aiming my camera lens directly upward to the sky from my backyard Monday morning.


I see spring in puffs of clouds against a sky morphed from the grey of winter to a sharp blue.


Flooded fields photographed Saturday morning in southern Minnesota.


I see spring in intense blue pools of water forming lakes in farm fields as the snow melts.


Typically, I would already have hung out laundry in 2019. But this year a snow-covered patio and too much snowfall and cold temps delayed that. Randy shoveled snow from the patio several days ago so I could hang out laundry Monday morning. That’s our Weber grill on the other side of the snowbank next to the clothesline.


I see spring in the laundry I now hang on the line, for the first time Monday morning. After the husband shoveled snow from the patio.


One of my favorite prints, picked up at a garage sale a number of years back.


I see spring, too, in the artwork I pull from my personal collection. Pastoral scenes that offer no hint of winter.


I appreciate that I can now find asparagus, one of my favorite vegetables, in local grocery stores.


I see spring in the bundle of asparagus I picked up at the grocery store. I can’t wait until locally-grown asparagus is available.

These things, for me, signal spring. How about you? Tell me what hearkens spring’s arrival for you.

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “Defining spring in Minnesota”

  1. Brenda Says:

    I agree with all of your signs of spring! My husband mentioned the asparagus as a sign of spring and I also just bought some even though it won’t be as good as our own. Just can’t wait! I have waited for the geese and swans on all the flooded fields in the area and they have just started moving in. I enjoy listening to their different calls. I have also seen a couple motorcyclists out riding, but that still looks kinda chilly to me! I also enjoy hanging clothes, especially jeans & towels on the clothesline. It somehow always reminds me of mom and my childhood. But the surest sign of spring for me is when we get the convertible out of storage and ready to go for a drive! 😁That won’t be until after our first good cleansing rain ☔️ Another good sign of spring!

  2. Valerie Says:

    Spring for me…my birthday! Hearing the birds singing when I step outside or open the window, opening the windows for a bit, the smell of fresh air, no ice on the paths where I walk, going for a bike ride,
    and I have to admit, yesterday when I noticed my green shoots popping up from my daffodil plants, that made me smile!

    • Thanks, Valerie, for sharing your signs of spring. Like you, I have cracked open the windows to let fresh air into the house. Today I’ll do that again. And more laundry is going on the line.

      Happy happy birthday, my friend!

  3. I define the seasons here as 1) Blooming (March and April), Rainy (May to Sept.), Hurricane Season which overlaps Rainy (June 1st to Nov. 30th) and the FL Winter (Dec to February). Blooming season is also prime time for Baseball Spring Training as well as Spring Breakers. I love the clothesline shot with a pile of snow – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

  4. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    For me, it’s the light – the way it comes through our living room window at a slightly different angle, how it illuminates the room and how the house plants reach toward the window as if in welcome. It’s the earliness of the sunrise and the lateness of the sunset. It’s the way the birds break into chorus in the mornings, so loud that I can hear them through still-closed windows. Spring shows up with rivulets of water running beneath thin little shelves of ice along the sides of our street and Mick loves to step on those and hear the crunch of the ice. It’s the way the birds zoom in and out of the spruce tree in our backyard, nesting materials in their beaks. And it’s in the way squirrels suddenly appear on our deck, tails flicking, mischief in their beady little eyes. And the wind – still chilly, but with that spring scent that promises more to come.

    • Kathleen, I absolutely adore your poetic response to my question.

      I can just see Mick breaking those ice shelves. And I can see the beady eyes of those squirrels. And right now I see that light you see, slanting into my office.

      • Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

        Spring brings out the poet in all of us! Happy Spring, Audrey.

      • Happy spring to you also, Kathleen.

        I joined four other Cannon Valley Poets in reading at the Paradise Center for the Arts last Thursday evening during an Acoustic Gallery event. What fun to read to an appreciative audience and to be among other poets.

  5. There is a smell in the air….I guess it’s spring air. 🙂

  6. Almost Iowa Says:

    Spring is waves on blue-water. It starts with the ponds, then the sloughs and finally the lakes.

    I remember years ago, Julie and I were walking along the Cedar River and there on a tree branch sat three bald eagles. They were hunting fish trapped in the shallow flood waters.

  7. I’m so happy Spring is peaking at you! We made a decision to head to Ohio this weekend for the month of April–I’m homesick and want to see my mom. While Ohio’s winter was nothing compared to yours, we are fervently praying that no surprise winter storms hit. I’m looking forward to watching the earth come alive while there. I’m glad the sun is shining and things are warming up for you. Happy Spring.

  8. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    The buds growing on that crabapple tree that try’s to kill me every spring is my first sign. Mmm asparagus! My step dad makes the best asparagus soup!

    • Oh, yes, your notorious crabapple tree. I thought you may have chopped that down by now.

      I need that asparagus soup recipe. I’ve made asparagus soup, but my recipe has not wowed me.

      • Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

        I don’t think he uses a recipe. He just adds a little of this and that. Ha ha. I haven’t chopped it down yet but I had thought about letting the dog use it for a toilet. Maybe that will kill it!

      • He cooks like my grandma did.

        Where there’s a will, there’s a way to kill that crabapple tree. 🙂

  9. Neil Says:

    Spring is here when Daylight Savings Time arrives. Having daylight later in the day does wonders to shake off the winter doldrums! It was a happy year when congress moved it up a couple of weeks… if only they could get good things accomplished more often!

    I discovered a sign of spring just last week that I’ve never paid attention to before; I was outside late in the evening and heard the peepers break into a cacophony that was music to my ears. I’m hoping that the frogs know with certainty something that we don’t — that if it’s safe for them to emerge from their winter hideouts, then we won’t be seeing any more snow!

    • I can hear those peepers in your writing. Thank you for sharing your sign of spring. I go to River Bend Nature Center to hear that music.

      Up here in Minnesota, it would be OK if Daylight Savings Time was delayed until sometime in April, when temps warm enough for us to be outdoors in the evening. Yesterday was an exception. Darkness in the early morning hours when kids are boarding school buses and people are heading to work is not so great, the reason I’d like to see the time spring forward at a later date.

  10. Minnesota pussy willows. When I see those then it usually means we have seen the last of the snow and within days I will see frog eggs in the country ditches.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.