Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Of bugs, fiddleheads & anthills April 22, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Grandpa and grandchildren follow the pine-edged driveway last summer at a Minnesota lake cabin. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2020.

HE BENT LOW, SQUATTING, trying to peer into the pinprick of a hole centering the mound of black dirt.

“Bug. Bug,” my 28-month-old grandson repeated. Three of us circled him—me, Grandpa (whom he calls Buddy) and Sister. In that moment, the anthill focused our attention. In that moment I realized, once again, how much I love being a grandma. How much I love seeing the world through the eyes of Isaac and his five-year-old sister, Isabelle.

This past weekend the pair stayed overnight with us, minus the parents. Randy and I love this special time with our grandchildren. Time to hug and cuddle and read and play. And explore nature.

With warm and sunny weather, we spent much of our weekend outdoors. Blowing bubbles. Playing Posy Pitch. Chalking cement. Climbing playground equipment and pushing swings and running after a little guy who moves incredibly fast.

We enjoyed nature in our yard and those anthills along the sidewalk. Isaac delighted in the ants and then did what seems innate—demolished the hills with his shoes. We never showed him.

The bugs that intrigued Isaac.

Bugs and worms enthralled him when Grandpa/Buddy flipped flat slabs of limestone to expose both. I can’t recall how many times Isaac asked to see those bugs.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

He loved the tulips, too, two red and two yellow blooming on the south side of the house. “Match,” he said. He’s big in to matching, just like he’s big in to letters of the alphabet. And he loves the sun and moon, imagining both in our overhead dining room light. At least this visit Isaac didn’t awaken early enough to see the sun and the moon simultaneously as he did during his last overnight stay.

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

I showed Isaac and Izzy the bird nest I found lying in the grass a few weeks ago, small blue egg still cozied inside the circle of dried grass. They listened, too, to the shrill whistle of a cardinal and heard Grandpa whistle in reply.

Our granddaughter zooms along on her scooter last year at North Alexander Park in Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2020.

When you pause to think like a child, listen like a child, see like a child, the natural world opens wide to awe and new-ness and delight. And that’s worth remembering, especially today, Earth Day.

Fiddleheads in my backyard.

I showed the pair fiddleheads—tightly coiled fern fronds destined to unfurl in the warmth and sunshine of an April day.

Even a pine cone holds wonder in the hands of a two-year-old. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo July 2020.

While walking and playing at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, we pocketed pine cones. And a smooth flat stone. Treasures.

Time with our grandchildren is treasured. Isaac loves watches and clocks. “Tick tock,” he says, when pointing to clocks in our house or carrying around the vintage alarm clocks I have in a small collection. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

But the true treasure is time. Time with Isabelle and Isaac. Time to love on them and teach them and learn from them. Time to grow our love for one another and strengthen that special bond between grandparent and grandchild. A bond unlike any other.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

6 Responses to “Of bugs, fiddleheads & anthills”

  1. valeriebollinger Says:

    Observing the world through children’s eyes, and at children’s pace, is the best!

  2. I love that you’re spending time in nature with your grandkids. I recently read an article about a photographer whose grandfather would make her sit outside for a while every day, still, just observing, and he would send her back out if she couldn’t answer what she’d observed when he asked. She learned to connect with the earth in a very different way than most kids through this observation time and that eventually informed her photography. I love this idea! Isaac seems like he loves looking at everything right now (not in a still way, of course) and you’re so right about seeing the world through a kid’s eyes. It really does bring us back into the moment and remind us to see what’s here in front of us.

    • Thank you for sharing that story about the photographer. I hope to pass along my love of photography to my grandchildren. Being a photographer and a writer truly is about seeing everything, from the wide perspective to the smallest detail. I credit my prairie upbringing for making me the writer and photographer I am today. The starkness of that landscape caused me to notice details. Not only visual. But of all the senses. I shall always feel grateful for the place which shaped me in so many ways.

  3. Norma Says:

    Audrey, what you and Randy do with those children is so inspiring. They will always remember you for your love of the earth, and even the bugs. You are teaching them the things that money can’t buy. Things that God created. They will always love you for those things. And so do I.


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