Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts after returning “home” to southwestern Minnesota November 14, 2019

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Just a few miles south of Belview, a John Deere tractor travels along a county road.


SOUTHWESTERN MINNESOTA. It is the place of my roots. The fields. The small towns. The people. The land. The sky. Even the wind.


A real estate and farm loan office in downtown Belview.


When I return here, I return with a sense of nostalgia. With memories. With a fondness for all this wide and spacious place represents to me. Yes, I admit to looking through a rose-colored lens, too often forgetting the challenges of living in rural Minnesota.


I love the colorful art on this antique shop in Belview, Minnesota.


But I prefer to focus on the comfort that going back home brings to me. A sense of calm. A sense of peace. A sense of quiet in a sometimes too chaotic life.


The local gas station/convenience store in Belview, next to the grain elevator. An important place since there’s no grocery store in town.


Small towns have their issues. Just like anywhere. But they also have the positives of a strong sense of community, of loyalty, of grit and determination. Agriculture weaves into every aspect of these small towns. Like Belview, rooted in agriculture. You see that influence in the businesses along Main Street.


Another Belview business.


There is comfort in seeing that, despite e-commerce and regional shopping centers, rural communities manage to hold onto local businesses. I often wonder how long. And that is a question only those who live in these communities can answer.


Working the land between Belview and Delhi.



© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


15 Responses to “Thoughts after returning “home” to southwestern Minnesota”

  1. I feel the same when I return ‘home’ to my small town in Ohio. It’s not only the sights and smells of a rural town with the familiar family businesses and farms now taken over by the next generation, but it’s a sense of being among my ‘people.’ We travel and come across so many wonderful friends and acquaintances, but going ‘home’ grounds me in a way that’s hard to explain. There, I’m among folks who grew up with the same values of hard work, caring for neighbors and community, and integrity in keeping their word. People are basically the same everywhere we go, but ‘home’ is like a warm comforter on a cold winter’s night. There’s a sense of security and wellbeing in the childhood familiarity. It changes so much from visit to visit, but so much is still the same. I’m thankful for those roots to return to from time to time.

  2. valeriebollinger Says:

    One can sense your love of this rural area of Minnesota…your prairie roots.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    I fear after this year of bad weather, poor yields and abysmal crop prices that there will be fewer farmers, and it is not just the farms that are suffering, when the farm economy suffers, the effects ripple through the community.

    But then there are the good years.

    • You are right on how a bad year in farming ripples throughout a rural community. And this growing season has been an especially challenging one all around.

      • Almost Iowa Says:

        For those who are not farmers. Look around at all the corn and (God Forbid) soy beans that have yet to be harvested.

        And it is not just that. Those fields need to be worked up after harvest or it will push planting back next spring….and if the spring is wet and cold, it gets ugly.

      • Correct. When we were in southwestern Minnesota last Saturday, we saw a lot more harvested fields than in southeastern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin.

  4. I miss small town life. You’re right, the smaller towns have more struggles to deal with, being in remote areas. But I also see more of a sense of community. Neighbor relying on neighbor during tough times. Lovely post, Audrey.

  5. Leanne Hahn Says:

    Couldn’t find an email to contact. You mention Belview… aren’t you from Vesta (related to Marilyn, who is related to me) ?

    • Yes, I’m the Audrey you know from Vesta, Marilyn’s niece. Mom moved to Belview a number of years ago and my middle brother sold the family farm so I seldom get back to Vesta. If you want to contact me, you’ll find my contact info on my About page.

  6. Gunny Says:

    God Bless the farmers. I envy you folks who seem to fit right back in in big or small towns. I have walked the streets of many of my “home towns” and rare is the case that someone actually acknowledges me or even thinks the know me from somewhere. I go back to these towns and I like what I see for the most part but I feel pretty much an NFH (Not From Here). So, I walk the streets of my home towns, and day dream that I am home.

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