Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

More than simply an ice cream treat March 2, 2021

A Peanut Buster Parfait from The Little DQ of Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

SPRING UNOFFICIALLY ARRIVED in Faribault this past weekend. You’d never guess that from viewing the snow cover, freshened by two inches of new snow overnight Sunday. But The Little DQ opened on February 27, signaling the shift toward spring. At least for Randy and me.

Every year about this time, the walk-up/drive-up Dairy Queen along Lyndale Avenue reopens after a three-month seasonal closure. And we find ourselves there picking up bargain Peanut Buster Parfaits. Seldom do we treat ourselves to DQ. But this opening special has become a tradition in recent years.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo of the Little DQ of Faribault.

So Monday evening, when I’m certain Randy would rather have settled onto the sofa than leave the cozy warm house after a long day of work, we headed across town to the DQ. Past the fire station and the courthouse, turning onto Fourth Street. The suspension in our 2003 Chevy Impala, closing on 270,000 miles, creaked with each switch in direction. Past the pizza place and our church and the recently-closed Family Video and the abandoned Farmers Seed and Nursery building. Across the train tracks and, shortly thereafter, a left turn onto the frontage road. Past Kwik Trip and then onto the pothole pocked street by the DQ.

I noted the electronic sign welcoming back “your smiling faces.” And I noted, too, the posted temp of 21 degrees.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

We arrived at a good time, on a cold evening past the dinner hour, to find only one vehicle ahead of us. A red pick-up truck. I counted out dollar bills and change, $4.28, to cover the $1.99 plus tax parfaits. Once cash was exchanged for treats, I clutched the two plastic encased parfaits and Randy aimed the Chevy back home.

We passed homes still aglow in holiday lights while a country tune played on KCHK 95.5 FM out of New Prague. I’m not a country music fan and Randy listens only occasionally for the weird stories. But something about the gentleness of the song and heart-breaking lyrics appealed to me. I got the music, he got you… He got the sunshine, I got the rain…

As Ronnie Milsap crooned, I took in our surroundings. Colored lights framing a solo second-story window in an aged wood-frame house. And, a block away, an American flag hung vertically as a window covering. Along Division Street, I spotted a snow fort in a front yard, mentally marking that I need to revisit this in daylight.

At a four-way stop, I saw a screen in the maroon vehicle ahead playing some show to entertain the kids. And I wished the family would turn off the device for a moment or ten and take in their surroundings. Neon blue lights outlining a front porch. Slant of light upon snow. Snow mounding along roadways.

In my hands, the Peanut Buster Parfaits transferred cold into my fingers. And shortly thereafter, when I spooned into the ice cream and fudge traced with peanuts while snuggled under a fleece throw in the recliner, I grew colder. And, for the longest time, I couldn’t get warm on this first day of March in Minnesota.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


22 Responses to “More than simply an ice cream treat”

  1. Bernadette Thomasy Says:

    What a sweet tradition. In Minnesota you have to use you any opportunity you can to shorten the wait for spring.

  2. I absolutely love that tradition. It is almost ice cream weather here –hitting 70’s this week and I can’t wait. The rain has even let up for a bit so it makes it even sweeter. Spring is coming.

  3. I love that you have this tradition. PB parfaits are the best!

  4. SherriH Says:

    That DQ has been there for a zillion years. I used to go there when I was young(er). Seeing it brings back happy memories, and I love your tradition. I, too, felt the opening of the DQ meant spring was here, but the DQ near my home in the Cities closed a few years ago, so now, no harbinger of spring. March 1 is just … March 1.

  5. JanBeek Says:

    Mmmm… that looks so good, I almost licked my computer screen! ❤

  6. I remember going to the Farmers Seed and Nursery building. Traditions . . . When I lived in Richfield I had a DQ within walking distance – not sure if my nephews were more excited to see me or get a treat – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂 Now I am craving some sweet treat.

  7. Kathleen Cassen Mickelson Says:

    I love this post! Traditions like this are so sweet and they really do mean something. I’m glad you and Randy continue to do this every year, your own special little thing. And I hope you eventually warmed up!

  8. Ronnie Milsap and Peanut Buster Parfaits! Sounds like a chilly, but perfect way to spend the day! 🙂

  9. valeriebollinger Says:

    We missed the opening! boo! Glad you didn’t. A great tradition Audrey!

  10. Susan Ready Says:

    A blissful treat to savor and enjoy as new month begins.

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