Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Reflecting on July-December 2022 December 31, 2022

AS I CONTINUE MY REVIEW of 2022 with a focus on messages found and photographed while out and about in the second half of the year, I hope you will feel moved to reflection and thoughtfulness. Words can hurt or heal. Words can diminish or build up. Words can defeat or encourage. Words are powerful and we need to remember that. Always. In 2023, I wish for more kindness and understanding, more compassion and love, more goodness in the words we speak and write.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo July 2022)

JULY

Inspirational messages on benches in public spaces always draw my attention and my camera lens. Whether at a nature center, city park, garden or elsewhere, I will pause and read such uplifting quotes. I loved this message on a bench at the Rice County Master Gardeners Teaching Gardens in Faribault. Touching the lives of others in a compassionate and meaningful way is among the greatest legacies one can leave.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2022)

AUGUST

Some time after the Rice County Fair ended, I meandered through the fairgrounds. During that look-around, I found a 4-H food stand sign leaning against a building. Painted with the 4-H theme of hearts, hands, head and health, it offered qualities we should all strive to follow: a heart to greater loyalty, hands to larger service, a head to clear thinking and health to better living. How much better this world would be if we followed the 4-H motto, and supported 4-Hers by dining at “1 great food stand.”

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2022)

SEPTEMBER

September took me back to my native southwestern Minnesota to view an exhibit, “Making Lyon County Home,” at the Lyon County Historical Society Museum in Marshall. Two of my poems, “Hope of a Farmer” and “Ode to my Farm Wife Mother,” are included in that exhibit. To see my writing displayed there along with the work of other noted southwestern Minnesota writers was truly an honor.

A posted quote from poet and essayist Bill Holm speaks to the influence of the land on writers. He notes the difference between the woods eye and the prairie eye. As prairie natives, Holm (now deceased) and I see with prairie eyes. He summarizes well the influence of the prairie on creativity. I’ve always felt the prairie influence in my writing and photography.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo October 2022)

OCTOBER

In a world that today feels more divisive than ever, I am encouraged by messages like the “EVERYONE WELCOME” sign posted in the window of a downtown Faribault business. I like how each colored line layers atop the previous one until the words emerge in a bold black, EVERYONE WELCOME.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

NOVEMBER

I laughed when I read the poster in the window of my local library: Because not everything on the internet is true. Duh? Yet, it’s a message that needs to be posted because too much inaccurate and blatantly false information circulates online and people believe it. That’s the scary part. And then the falsehoods are repeated and they grow into something awful and horrible and detrimental.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo December 2022)

DECEMBER

My chosen words for December come from the Adopt-a-Tree program in Faribault. Businesses, individuals, non-profits and more purchase and decorate trees to give to families in need of a Christmas tree. But before those trees go into homes, they are displayed at Central Park.

One donor focused on suicide crisis intervention and prevention and support for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Anything that opens the conversation about mental health gets my backing. We need to continue talking about mental health. We need to reduce the stigma.

But beyond conversation, we need to “do.” We need to show care and compassion for those living with mental health struggles. We need to support and encourage them, and those who love them. We desperately need more mental healthcare professionals so people in crisis can access care immediately. Wait times of six weeks or more are unacceptable. Try waiting six weeks if you’re having a heart attack. That’s my comparison.

As we move into 2023, I am hopeful. Hopeful that we can grow more compassionate and kind. Hopeful that I will continue to discover positive messages posted throughout southern Minnesota.

Happy New Year, everyone!

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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20 Responses to “Reflecting on July-December 2022”

  1. Bernadette Arlene Thomasy Says:

    This was a lovely reflection on the past year. I especially enjoyed the quote about the prairie eye and the woods eye — so much to ponder there. Happy New Year to you!

  2. Judy Says:

    Happy New Year!!!

  3. Happy New Year, Audrey! ❤

  4. David Mildenberg Says:

    Thank you for your beautiful work and wisdom. I haven’t lived in southern Minnesota for decades but you bring back wonderful memories of my family’s roots in Faribault, Mankato and New Ulm.

    • David, thank you for your appreciative comment. I’m glad to hear my work resonates and reminds you of “home.” I have connections to all three locations you list: Faribault, my home now for 40 years; Mankato, the city where I attended college (Bethany Lutheran and Mankato State); and New Ulm (Courtland specifically) my mom’s home area. Welcome to the comments section of Minnesota Prairie Roots. I’m happy to have you here.

  5. beth Says:

    you have found hope most everywhere you’ve been, sometimes in unexpected places. I have hope that you will continue to do the same in the new year

  6. Valerie Says:

    Happy New Year Audrey! I look forward to reading your posts in 2023!

  7. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Happy New year Audrey, I enjoyed reading through your reflections of 2022. Here’s to a happy, healthy and joyful 2023.


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