Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Popping spring into a Minnesota winter February 1, 2022

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A hyacinth blooms inside my Minnesota home in January. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

IN THE DEPTHS of a Minnesota winter, when snow layers the landscape and cold settles into my bones, I long for spring. I yearn for color, for warmth, for stepping outdoors without first donning, boots, winter coat, scarf, hat and mittens.

In a mini vase, set on a windowsill, greenery emerges. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

In that mind frame, I recently purchased a hyacinth bulb at Aldi. It was in the non-food aisle of oddities—those items you don’t necessarily need but may buy on impulse. But I did need this. I needed a visual pop of spring, of color, in my home.

In the warmth and sunlight, roots spread inside the vase. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

A year ago I bought a hyacinth bulb in a mini vase at Aldi, too, but for my son who at the time lived in Madison, Wisconsin. He struggles with the cold, with winter in general. So, for a few bucks, I jolted color into his apartment. He’s now living in Indiana, some eight-plus hours away, thus no hyacinth this winter.

Beauty even in the green of tight buds. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

Instead, I would delight in this spring flower associated with the Greek god Apollo. I chose a pink hyacinth this year rather than the blue gifted to Caleb. My granddaughter loves pink and I was hoping to give the spring flower to her. But then my mom died and Izzy was sick (not COVID) and time got away and I haven’t seen the grandkids since early January.

Set against a snowy backdrop, the hyacinth blooms inside my home. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

It was meant to be—for me to tend this bulb with buds clamped, then lengthening and unfurling into two beautiful blossom branches.

In the morning sunlight, the bulb sprouts roots, then greenery, then flowers. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

Each morning I moved the vase to the east-facing front picture window, into the morning light. I delighted in white roots expanding in the water-filled vase. I topped the water as instructed. I watched the greenery grow remarkably fast…until the first flowers bloomed. Lovely pink. And a fragrance equally lovely in intensity.

Hyacinth silhouette against the snow outside the picture window. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

Then the bulb tipped in the vase at the weight of the blooming stem. I leaned the heavy bloom against the window, propping it into balance.

A beautiful second blossom followed the first. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo January 2022)

Soon a second shoot shot to the side. More flowers. Flowers set against a backdrop of snow. A symbol of spring in the depths of a cold Minnesota winter.


TELL ME: Have you grown a spring bulb inside your home in winter? I’d like to hear what and why.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling