Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Of gravel roads, barns & cornfields August 3, 2020

Rural Rice County, west of Faribault, Minnesota.


ON A SULTRY SUNDAY SUMMER AFTERNOON of oppressive heat and humidity, I needed to get out of the house. Away. Into the country. On a drive. It was too hot to walk, to do anything outside of air conditioning.


Steady rain the night before kept the dust down on gravel roads we drove.


Following back county and township roads in and around Faribault, Randy and I got the rural fix we needed. For me, the crunch of gravel upon tires and the washboard vibration of a road in need of grading.


The corn crop around here looks good.


I needed, too, to see cornfields stretching across the land, tassels flagging fields. My heart aches at the sight, for the missing of living in the country. Memories still root me there.



And then I spotted a barn flashing bold red into the landscape on the edge of Warsaw. I’ve long admired that well-kept barn.



Weaving through Warsaw, Randy reminisced about living there decades ago as we passed his former rental place. At the Channel Inn in Warsaw, we paused only long enough for a photo of the vintage signage.


Without my telephoto lens on my camera, I couldn’t get a good shot of these turkeys. But you can make out two along the treeline and one by the field. The rest went the other direction.


And then we followed more gravel roads, routes not previously taken, but which revealed a PIG HOTEL sign on a house. I missed that photo op, but I promise to return. I almost missed the wild turkeys edging the woods.



A bit further, I saw the cutest little brick barn. Solid. As good as new. Beautifully poetic in its construction.



Past a gravel pit and an unknown lake and farm sites set among fields on rolling land, we aimed back toward town. Past Ableman’s Apple Creek Orchard, a favorite, and a roadside sign reminding us that we are not alone. Ever.


© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Of gravel roads, barns & cornfields”

  1. wyonne Says:

    Hi Audrey!
    How wonderful it is to travel the back roads of Minnesota! When I was growing up there was nothing better than to get in the car with Mom and Dad and my brothers and drive through the countryside on Sunday afternoons. Dad always checked out the progress of the crops! I looked at nothing in particular and I looked everything “in particular!” There’s lots of wonderful scenery in Norway, where I live, and yet Minnesota “back roads” are super dear to my heart. Thank you, thank you, Audrey!! Your sky pictures are so brilliant! And your human, social and spiritual love of Minnesota and “her” countryside are equally as splendid!!

    • Oh, Wyonne, thank you for your kind and specific words about my blog post. I deeply appreciate that you recognize how much I love rural Minnesota.

      Your description of Sunday afternoon drives with your parents to look at crops fits my childhood exactly.

  2. Doreen Says:

    These days we are all in need of taking a drive and connecting (reconnecting?) with the Lord’s creation…..and, then, with each other (the thing I miss most). Hugs……………….

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Oh those barns, I see some Pride of ownership in those beauties. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I love the brick barn. I love that you take us along to enjoy the beautiful scenery with you! Lovely photos, Audrey. ❤

  5. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Love your rural features, we did the Sunday drives too, which continued after the folks passed. I made excuses to head south. And now…!!! Keep ’em coming!

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