Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, the joy of autumn days with the grandkids October 13, 2020

Randy walks with the grandkids at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault on Saturday afternoon.

NOTHING BRINGS ME more joy than time with my grandchildren, Isabelle, 4 ½ and Isaac, 21 months. This past weekend they spent all of Saturday with us, overnight into early Sunday evening so their parents could have some much-needed time alone. Randy and I love having the kids. They are easy-going, fun and just plain happy.

Our living room, kid central this weekend with toys pulled from totes and cupboards.

At their young ages, the siblings are content doing most anything from coloring to “helping” make apple crisp. This visit, Izzy headed straight for her Uncle Caleb’s Brio train set. And Isaac, besides pushing any toy with wheels, loved putting together puzzles. The same ones, over and over. (We think he’s pretty smart.) And this visit, Grandpa’s vinyls spinning on the record player also fascinated him.

We stopped often at River Bend to view the colorful leaves.

But, for me, it was our time outdoors that proved most engaging and memorable. We took the kids to River Bend Nature Center on Saturday afternoon, arriving to a parking lot filled with vehicles, including several school buses. Unbeknownst to us, a cross country meet was taking place. We stayed as far away from that busyness as possible, although a cluster of several teens out for a practice run in the woods veered way too close for comfort. That aside, it was a mostly solo walk for the four of us.

Our grandson, 21 months, runs along a trail at River Bend. Once taken out of the stroller, he never went back. Our walk ended with his sister riding in the stroller.

We started out with Isaac in the stroller given the distance we planned to walk. Part way in, we let him walk, or shall I say, run. Even with legs much longer than his, Randy and I struggled to keep up with our grandson. Occasionally he would stop, though, to examine a leaf or pick up a stick.

That’s the part I appreciate about being with little kids. You see the world through their eyes, at their level, from their inquisitive perspective. And that’s refreshing. There are many stop and smell the roses moments.

The street by the MSAD shows the beautiful fall colors gracing Faribault.

We experienced those at River Bend and again on Sunday when we looped our way around the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus. Izzy zoomed ahead of us on her scooter. And Isaac likewise moved as fast as his legs could carry him. Fast enough for these grandparents.

Randy lifted Isaac for a closer look at these bold berries on a tree at the MSAD.

Occasionally the kids paused to gather pine cones, colorful leaves and berries or to pick petunias (shhh) from a flowerbed. I bagged their nature finds for them to take home.

I hope we are instilling in them an appreciation for the outdoors and for nature. But, more than that, I hope they will remember these times with us—the minutes and hours and days together. Connecting, sharing, learning and loving each other as only grandparents and their grandchildren can. What a joy. What a blessing.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Oh, the joy of autumn days with the grandkids”

  1. valeriebollinger Says:

    So happy you were able to spend the with your grandkids and take them out in nature!

  2. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Nice piece! I have pictures of romping in the leaves of Mahtomedi with my oldest from 1965 I treasure. I’m sure your grandkids are brilliant! Had to look up that .7 mi. MN299, really? Created in 1951, as of 2018, it’s being removed and given to Faribault, probably take a while. Mom and I moved from St. Mary’s campus to 617 NE 5th St. in 1957 when Dad died. Bob Flom (cousin on Mom’s side) bought house from me in 1999, maintains it as rental, has made nice improvements to the 100+ yr old house. The East Side group that stretched to Washington School area, has scattered now. But trees are (almost) forever. I really must get to that Nature Center. Interesting, I got 3 estimates to sell, $20K apart! I was SO confused. As you know, real estate values are definitely still a different discussion from the town’s beautiful areas. Fall is waning, at least Trinity’s choir gets to sing. Only one I know of. I was hoping for Thanksgiving, not looking good.

  3. Awe, this is the best! Those grandbabes help keep us young don’t they!. The photo of the toys everywhere looks very familiar. I’m glad that you had a beautiful October day to enjoy the outdoors with the kids.

  4. Norma Says:

    Oh Audrey. I so envy the time you have to spend with your grandkids. I’ve had 2 new greats born this year, and I don’t know if I will ever get to meet them. I’m sure I will not see Isabelle or Isaac this year, and at my age, I don’t even know if I’ll ever get to see them again. All of this year has been such a depressing time to live in. I love the fall colors that you can enjoy. We don’t have those beautiful colors here. It just doesn’t get cold anymore. I haven’t owned a coat for several years. October used to be my favorite month, but when it stays in the 80’s and 90’s, it just isn’t enjoyable anymore.

    • Oh, Norma, these are certainly difficult times. Missing family. Struggling with life during a pandemic. Even though your Minnesota family can’t see you, they hold you in love. And so do I. I wish I could transport you here to see your great grandchildren and to experience our stunning autumn days. But the best I can do is offer these photos for you to enjoy.

  5. Ruth Says:

    Awww, yes similar photos today. Would that qualify as “great minds”? Nice to be with grands.

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