Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Color my winter world January 8, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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The nearly colorless landscape of southwestern Minnesota in late December.


MY EYES, MY SPIRIT, my very being craves color this time of year.

I need pops of color to break the white monotony of a Minnesota winter landscape. Without color, the bleakness of setting presses down the spirit. Not that winter can’t be beautiful. It’s just that I prefer a world beyond black and white.

So when I’m out and about, I find myself drawn to hues that flash. Like red, especially red. Set against a backdrop of white, red appears even bolder, stronger.


Parked in a Morristown, Minnesota, driveway.


A red pick-up truck.


Red barns, like this one in southwestern Minnesota, really stand out in a winterscape.


A red barn, tractor, outbuildings.


Right next to the I-90 in the Wisconsin Dells, a colorful waterslide breaks the grey of a foggy late December morning.


Even, while driving through the Wisconsin Dells recently, red spiraling on an outdoor waterslide.


Taillights are welcome along a foggy I-90 in Wisconsin.


And, on that same trip, the welcome red of taillights beaconing through thick fog pressed upon Interstate 90.

During a Midwest winter, red equals the visual equivalent of happiness.

TELL ME: Do you involuntarily gravitate toward color this time of year? If yes, I’d like to hear more.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Color my winter world”

  1. My view is a bit different in North Carolina – we still have splashes of green and beautiful blue skies in our landscape. Throw in some of the colors of pop of the wildflowers and we have a much different view than the black and white of the snow laden lands. That was definitely something I looked for when we lived in snowy climates and I loved all of the red you found in your winter scenes.

  2. I can say sun deprivation happens here when those gloomy overcast rainy days set in. Then when the sun does come back out again everything seems brighter in color. I added some beachy pics to my blog post this morning. Enjoy 🙂 Happy Day!

    • I’ll check out your post shortly as I need “beach” on this particularly frigid morning. That said, the sun is shining bright as it often does on these especially deep-freeze cold winter mornings in Minnesota.

      I intentionally hung an ocean scene print in my living room when I switched out my art recently. I have quite a collection of art which allows me to change it often. That’s thanks to garage sales, thrift shops and used art sales.

  3. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson (One Minnesota Writer) Says:

    I don’t mind the winter landscape, as you know, but I do get drawn to the winter sunrises and sunsets. That slash of glowing color across the sky often makes me grab my camera and it feels like just enough in the dead of winter.

  4. Gunny Says:

    Gloomy? For sure. But then don’t let a particular day ruin your life. I was in North Carolina and it was overcast for 45 straight days. My wife was near suicidal wanting to see daylight or sunlight! Then again, she is stymied by how I managed to work and live in the night hours for years! In one case, I lived and worked in a ship and never say lay light night or day for over 60 days. While most Texans decorate the inside of their homes with dark flooring, drapes, long horns, dark woods and animal skins as well as animal trophies, I suggested to the wife a light oak flooring, light carpets and light colored walls. She chose yellow but I insisted then that we have white and blue drapery. We also have a nautical accessories an boat paintings which give it an air of sea breezes and fun days with pops of color.
    My wife loves trees. We have a bunch. Going west, I see beauty in the barren landscape and miles of scenery which my wife has no appreciation of. Gotta love the place your at, even if you are there on bad days. I was once caught in a 100 year flood. The scenery would have impress Salvadore Dahli (SP?), the surrealist painter. Was the weather and situation bad? Absolutely! But the view was magnificent!. Sunrise in Singapore was another great view, Honk Kong harbor a sight to see. A stormy sea on the coast of Maine is awe inspiring as are the street Steep Hill in Lincoln going up to the castle in Lincolnshire, or a stormy day looking over the North Sea at Skegness. Appreciate what is their. It won’t last and the weather may change to something more to your liking. A statement often made in out on the Southwest plains and gentle rolling hills of Oklahoma.

  5. It is the yellows of the daffodils!!! The sky is grey and rainy but when the bright yellows start to bloom here it always pops. This week they started (much earlier than normal). No fear I will be joining your winter ice box next week. I may need to add some daffodil pics to my phone to remind me of what I will be missing.

  6. Yes and yes! I need color and sunshine this time of year!

  7. valeriebollinger Says:

    When the sun is out in the winter in Minnesota the sky is such a bright blue and it makes such a difference. It lifts spirits, as does any kind of color…like red trucks, barns and playgrounds.

  8. I do enjoy the “pops” of color against the beautiful white of winter!

  9. Susan Ready Says:

    yes color this time of the year is so needed. We just all have to look a little harder try thinking a little more abstract as acts of kindness can color our hearts with joy too.

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