Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A look at the new year from The Land of Plenty January 7, 2022

Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted edited file photo December 2017

ONCE UPON A TIME in The Land of Plenty, people far and wide welcomed the new year. Some with optimism. Others with cautiousness. And yet others with ambivalence.

But at least one family celebrated as they began their third calendar year in power. No one had elected them to office, attempted a take-over or used nepotism to open doors. Rather, the family patriarch, The Great Invader, simply slipped into the country and began his campaign of destruction. Illness. Death. Discord. Division. He spared nothing to remain in power.


His plan was working. Despite warnings from The Ministry of Health. Despite a life-saving potion. Despite Centers for Healing filling to capacity. He gloated in his success and that of his cousins, enlisted to help with the cause. His Office of Misinformation labored into the wee hours disseminating falsehoods, which quickly passed via word-of-mouth from village to village and then into the countryside.

The Office of Truthfulness likewise worked tirelessly, posting daily information and statistics on scrolls in the village square. Tallies of the sick. The dead. But often The Village Know-It-All ripped down the scrolls before anyone could read them. He despised the officials who released facts and supporting data. He considered them a threat.

And so life went. The Great Invader and his family roamed mostly unfettered, infecting more people than ever. They’d had enough time to adjust, to tweak their strategies. Even those protected by a life-saving potion were now falling ill, although their illnesses proved mostly minor. Those without the protection of a magic potion, however, proved especially vulnerable. Too often they fell gravely ill, filling cots at Centers for Healing to overflowing. Others, particularly the elderly and those who suffered from other maladies, died. The Great Invader watched streams of mourners gather in the village graveyard. He clearly saw just how effective his efforts on the unprotected, even if many villagers didn’t.


Health officials pleaded with villagers to accept the life-saving potion. They warned of a shortage of cots and healers, of overworked and stressed caregivers. They warned of death and severe illness. But none of it seemingly mattered. Even the deaths of loved ones did not convince the villagers to protect themselves, their families, friends and community.


In the village of Drofdem, locals crammed elbow to elbow over pints of ale at the pub. Rumors and untruths circulated, fueled by alcohol. When the proprietor, who had taken the life-saving potion and who wore a protective face mask, circulated among the revelers, they scoffed at him. Called him names. Laughed in his face. He remained stoic, showing no emotion while inwardly reeling from the insults. He wanted nothing more than to throw them out of his pub, bar the door and flee. But his family depended on him.


Several cobblestone streets away, students gathered inside the village school, in cramped windowless rooms with clay walls and dirt floors. Few of those children had received the magic potion to fend off The Great Invader. Their parents distrusted The Ministry of Health, believing instead the misinformation spewed by The Village Know-It-All and his core team. They refused to mask their children, although that was proven to help stop The Great Invader. No one, they claimed, should tell them what was best for their children.

However, in far away cities, teachers expressed concerns about the ever-spreading virus. Some refused to teach, noting the risk to their health and that of their students. Debates and division arose.

Other concerns existed in The Land of Plenty, too. Shortages of wagons and oxen meant delays in getting shoes from cobblers to far-away cities. Peasant farmers fell ill, creating a shortage of food in the marketplace. Travelers found themselves stranded, unable to secure transportation as cart drivers fell ill and dirt roads turned to muck in torrential rains. Threats of war remained as universal as time.


Yet, in a small stone house in the village, a waif of a girl and her mother remained hopeful. Of little means, especially since the death of their father and husband at the hands of The Great Invader (pre life-saving potion), they had enough. They had each other. They had taken the protective potion. Each evening they sat by the fireside, the mother singing softly to her beloved daughter. “You are my sunshine.” Even in the darkness, love prevailed. No one, not even The Great Invader and his cousins or The Village Know-It-All, could destroy their love or diminish their hope.


NOTE: In every story exists truth, this one no exception. This story is part of an ongoing series about The Great Invader (COVID-19). Please choose vaccination to protect yourself, your loved ones and others. If you’ve already been vaccinated and boosted, thank you. Please also mask up in public and follow other CDC guidelines to help prevent spread of the virus.

I moderate all comments and will not publish anti-vaccine, anti-mask and other such views on this, my personal blog.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


14 Responses to “A look at the new year from The Land of Plenty”

  1. beth Says:

    amazing – brilliant writing

  2. You know me and how I like to be on the sunnier side of things. With that being said I thought to myself the other day this is one rollercoaster ride I am ready to get off of already. We plateau, we surge. Then with cooler temps comes other illnesses (oh why did I read the article about flurona the other day). Then where I live we are in prime bloom season – so hello! allergies and sinus suffering. The circle/cycle continues on . . . Take Care, Be Safe

    • I feel the same, that this is a rollercoaster ride. And I went off. I’ve never much cared for rollercoasters.

      I, just minutes ago, read about flurona. You take care and be safe, too. And thanks for being (mostly) positive in perspective.

  3. The lockdown here in The Netherlands had kept our numbers steady until the last few days. We went from 13,000/day to 23,000/day in one day this week and today we hit 35,000/day! Yikes! Kids go back to in school learning next week and we all know that those germ monsters will carry everything home. We are just happy that by mid week we will both have our booster shot. Stay safe and healthy.

    • Paula, I am thankful you and your hubby will soon get your boosters. I’m sure that will ease your mind somewhat. Those numbers from The Netherlands are scary. Just like here in Minnesota, where cases and deaths are through the roof. Since the pandemic begin, 10,733 Minnesotans have died as a result of COVID. Now every time I read an obituary for someone in their 60s or younger (and it doesn’t state they died after a courageous battle with cancer or in a motor vehicle accident), I assume COVID. I’m seeing way too many obituaries for individuals in their 60s, especially. Take care, my friend. You’re doing everything you can to keep yourself safe and protected. Thank you for that…because it shows me you also care deeply about others.

  4. Sandra Says:

    This is so very clever, shared several times with my literary circle. FDN should be sharing their talented local. Might help some of the anger it’s difficult not to feel toward such loss of life and time. Thank you, gifted person.

    • Sandra, thank you for appreciating my “The Great Invader” series and for sharing these with your literary circle. I’m appreciative. It’s been a good exercise for me in stretching and growing my creative writing.

      As far as the FDN republishing these particular posts, I’ve asked the editor not to do so. Why? I expect the stories would generate negative comments, etc. and I don’t need that added stress. On my blog, I moderate comments and therefore choose not to print misinformation and opinions that I find hurtful, rather than helpful. That said, the FDN (per an agreement with me) republishes some of my posts in the paper. Again, I’m grateful for your kind comments and appreciation of my work.

  5. JanBeek Says:

    Ah yes, The Great Invader has certainly raised havoc… and invited his friends, Omicron and Delta and RSV… to join him. Even with the fully vaccinated, they are having their fun at the expense of societies world-wide. Where will it end? Bob & I both are suffering RSV now… a nasty virus. You don’t want it, Audrey. Bee well!!

    • Oh, Jan, I’m sorry you and Bob are dealing with RSV. Please take care…praying you will soon be back to good health.

      I’m trying to stay well. As you write, I don’t want any of this. My bout with whooping cough 16 years ago was bad enough.

      Like you, I’m wondering when this will all end. I’m weary of this pandemic world. I’m currently reading a book about the Dust Bowl. So many similarities, even if these were two totally different disasters in different times.

  6. Sheri A Eichhorn Says:

    Wow, that was powerful! What a lovely fairy tale to remind us that love, in all its innocent goodness, will win. We must continue to spread love and hope that there can be a deep sea change in this ocean of disinformation and anger and distrust. This should be read by everyone.

    • Thank you, Sheri. I appreciate your kind words. Please feel free to share a link to this post and the others in my The Great Invader series. If you haven’t read all of the posts in this series, I’d encourage you to do so. And keep spreading love, hope and truth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.