Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Thoughts during this season of autumn in Minnesota October 20, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A cornfield fronts a farm site between Faribault and Dundas in rural Rice County, Minnesota.

LIVING IN SOUTHERN MINNESOTA, as I have for my entire life, I feel a strong connection to the land rooted in my rural upbringing.

A barn roof is barely visible over a cornfield, rural Rice County.

Each autumn, I reflect on this time of bringing in the crops. Of gathering the last of the garden produce. Of harvesting corn and soybeans from the acres of fields that define rural areas. I miss the sights and sounds and scents of farming this time of year. Once-green fields muting to shades of brown, Combines roaring down field rows. The air smelling of drying leaves and of earth.

A back country road north of Faribault, heading to Dundas.

For those reasons, I always appreciate a drive through the countryside, especially along gravel roads. The pace is decidedly slower than traveling on a paved surface.

A grain truck awaits the harvesting of corn in rural Dundas.

Although farming has changed considerably with bigger machinery and bigger farms and bigger yields, the basic connection to the land remains. At least for me. It’s part of my creative spirit, of my being.

Grain bins define a farm site along a back gravel road in rural Rice County, Minnesota.

Yes, it’s easy to get nostalgic about rural life. I offer no apologies for that because I shall always feel grateful for the 17 years I lived on a farm. I learned the value of hard work, of living with minimal material possessions, of working together, of recognizing that inner strength and fortitude and resilience are important as are honesty and good character.

Country roads intersect near Cannon City.

I am thankful I used an outhouse during my childhood, pitched manure, picked rocks, walked beans, fed cows and calves, pulled weeds, didn’t get birthday gifts… There’s something to be said for having grown up in such a setting, in a way of life that by necessity requires significant physical labor and living within your means.

Harvest finished in rural Rice County.
A grain truck parked in Northfield.
Corn stalk bales line a Rice County field.

In the winter, my hands cracked and bled from exposure to water and the elements. In the spring, when I picked rocks from fields, dirt sifted into holes in my canvas tennis shoes. In the summer, the hot sun blistered my skin as I pulled cockleburrs. (We didn’t have sunscreen.)

Pumpkins and squash for sale from a wagon parked at a farm site along Rice County Road 1 west of Dundas.
A house in Dundas decorated for Halloween.
A seasonal display anchors a corner of a downtown Northfield floral shop.

And so these are my thoughts as I immerse myself in the season of harvest via a country drive. A drive that takes me from the countryside into town, to seasonal displays and thoughts of Halloween and Thanksgiving and the winter ahead.

The road ahead may not be easy…

I fully recognize that the forthcoming winter will challenge all of us. I am determined to stay the course during this ongoing global pandemic. To mask up, to social distance, to wash my hands, to connect only with my small family circle, to try and stay as healthy as possible, to care about others…to tap into my can-do farm girl attitude of strength, common sense and resilience. For this is but a season of life, one which requires each of us to think beyond ourselves, understanding that our choices matter now, more than ever to the health and safety of all.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


20 Responses to “Thoughts during this season of autumn in Minnesota”

  1. Washe Koda Says:

    I miss Minnesota ♥️ thanks for sharing 😉

    • You may not miss Minnesota today. We are expecting four or more inches of snow here in the southern part of the state with more to the north and west. As I type, snow is falling. This is incredibly early for measurable snow in Minnesota, although we did have that Halloween blizzard back in 1991 with some 20 inches of snow. At least we’re not expecting that much today.

  2. Beautiful thoughts and reflections and the photos are so inviting and welcoming, too. Stay well!

  3. Ken Wedding Says:

    Cheers and hopes we can all be as optimistic and successful.

  4. wyonne Says:

    You are a master at owning and sharing the values gained in the 17 years, that I, too lived and gained on the farm.

  5. Littlesundog Says:

    From one farm girl to another, our thoughts and joys of autumn changes, harvest and hard work are shared and fondly remembered. I’ve been busy lately working at the rock house doing some painting, but my heart yearns for the time I button things up for winter – finishing harvest in the garden and doing some last minute herb drying, cutting back some plants and mulching others, and putting away tools. Winter is a time for rest (well, the land and plants anyway) and to enjoy the fruits of our labors. Enjoy the season, Audrey. I look forward to seeing your lovely photographs of your neck of the woods.

  6. Bernadette Thomasy Says:

    Your country roads photos brought back so many memories of harvest and autumn growing up in Minnesota. I could smell and feel the cornfields surrounding the farm sites. Yes, we farm girls will get through this. Glad we were prepared early.

  7. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    Lovely. Ah, those outhouses. And collecting eggs in the koop. Driving the rural roads with only headlights, also an adventure. The grain aromas. It’s 10 and not snowing here yet. Have a very colorful dining room, just couldn’t let the color go yet. Not sure how it will get done, but there’s inches thick of leaves on the lawns yet to remove. I suppose it’s good to have 1991 to reflect on. We have roofers arriving next week. There must be a Nov.!

  8. Lovely post, Audrey. Your love of the land is wonderful, beautifully expressed in your posts. I so enjoy them. ❤ < 3

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