Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Before winter settles in…savor these autumn days October 21, 2022

My next door neighbor’s maple tree. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

IN THE FLEETING DAYS of autumn here in Minnesota, there’s an urgency to get things done before winter. Hurry and rake the leaves. Tune up the snowblower. Wash the windows. Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Almost like seeing summer, autumn and winter in the trees viewed from my backyard. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

But in the haste of all that preparation, there’s also a need to slow down and delight in autumn. Simply stepping outside my home to view the backyard maple and neighbors’ trees fills my soul. I love the contrast of orange, red, yellow against the bold October sky. Sometimes when I look skyward, I see a mix of seasons from green leaves, to autumnal leaves to bare branches.

Sunshine filters through a branch on my backyard maple tree. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Every single day calls for pausing to appreciate the beautiful natural world of October in southern Minnesota. I know this won’t last and I need to savor these scenes.

The countryside near Nerstrand. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Last Saturday morning, instead of pursuing yard work, Randy and I headed on one more drive through the countryside to view the diminishing fall colors. Leaf raking, although started, could wait. As we followed back county paved roads and township gravel roads through open farmland and through woods, I felt embraced and connected to the local landscape and scenes unfolding before me.

Farmer Trail twists through woods of primarily maple. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Sunshine dappled through trees.

To the north across cornfields and treelines, a cloud deck revealed the weather ahead. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

To the north, a cloud deck drew a nearly straight horizontal line across the sky, a hint of the cold weather to come. And it blew in later that day with a raw wind and a drop in temps.

Still some color along Crystal Lake at Cannon City. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Colors were well past their peak in Rice County. Still the occasional oak or maple dropped red or russet into muted tree clusters.

A grain truck holds the corn harvest. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Harvested and unharvested fields of corn and soybeans spread before us. Grain trucks, some brimming with the yield, anchored fields. Former farm kids that we are, we discussed the crops. Always have, always will. It’s something we learned early on, me from Sunday afternoon drives with my parents and siblings to view the crops and during dinner table discussions.

A stately, well-kept barn along Coe Trail northwest of Cannon City. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

We passed farm sites, one with a well-kept signature red barn. There’s something about a barn…

A farm site in the colors of November. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Another farm place was all grey. Grey bin. Grey machine shed. Grey silo. Grey outbuilding. Grey garage. Weathered grey barn.

Driving through autumn on a rural Rice County road last Saturday. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Soon the weather will shift to the grey of November, the month when winter creeps in. Already we’ve felt the bite of unseasonably cold October days that are giving way, this weekend, to unseasonable warmth. These mark bonus days. Days to drive the countryside, visit an orchard, take a hike…days for anything but raking leaves, washing windows or tuning the snowblower.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


10 Responses to “Before winter settles in…savor these autumn days”

  1. beth Says:

    I never take a single one of these days for granted. they are each a treasure

  2. Beautiful photos, Audrey. That photo of Farmer Trail is stunning! We are just starting to change colors here.

  3. Valerie Says:

    Thanks for taking us on a fall drive. We love to do that too.
    I love the red barn.
    We will be playing in this nice weather too, this weekend.

  4. Sandra Says:

    Yes, thank you for the lovely pictures. I’m watching every neighborhood, as ours is losing 45 dead +50 yr old ash trees this week that I’ve enjoyed a golden canopy outside my bedroom and living room windows for 50 yrs. It’s a natural disaster to this property. 12 are within viewing distance of my windows and shaded my patio. Now what to do with stumps +36″ dia. We have a retired guy still in the business, friend of our tree contractor who is about to retire. There are still trees, this property was forested when the developer got city to approve a development in the late 60s. Now, every direction the developers are gobbling up rural landscapes, just as the open spaces in Faribault. We can only look where we can. I do still have a lovely Autumn Blaze Maple in front to enjoy. Yes, this is a work weekend, before Reformation next weekend.

  5. It’s been the most brilliant fall ever here in the North Carolina mountains and even coming back from a week at the beach there is still plenty of color around to enjoy. I do love the colors.

    • How wonderful that you had a brilliant fall in NC. We had fierce winds here over the weekend, meaning the trees are now mostly without leaves. We did see some stunning oaks yesterday along I-35 between Faribault and Lakeville late Sunday morning. Today we are hoping for rain. Yesterday the air was thick with dust. Just awful.

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