Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Flamingos inspire me to escape this Minnesota winter March 9, 2023

Framed in the front window of Fashions on Central, this tropical display was created by volunteer Ann Meillier for the Buckham West (senior center) retail store. Ann also crafts displays inside this primarily volunteer-run business. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2023)

DECIDEDLY NONTROPICAL MINNESOTA seems an unlikely place to find wild or captive flamingos. And it is…with the exception of the Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley and Como Park Zoo in St. Paul and their resident flamingos. While those two zoos are not all that far from Faribault, we have our own flock right here. Not real, of course, but fake flamingos, which are good enough for me in the midst of a particularly long and snowy Minnesota winter.

The Fashions on Central Facebook page features this post about its flamingos: Walk like a flamingo! Walk WITH flamingos! YOU ARE FLAMAZING! (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2023)

In the storefront window of Fashions on Central, a fashionably-dressed headless mannequin grips the leashes of five plastic flamingos wading in a sea of gauzy fabric. With two fish among them and a starfish to the far left, I recognize this as a tropical scene. Yet my imaginative snowbanked mind drifts to snowdrifts enveloping those warm weather birds.

Enough of that thinking.

Fashions on Central, located at 325 Central Ave. N. in downtown Faribault, is open from 11 am – 5 pm Tuesday through Friday. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2023)

I appreciate the creative efforts at Fashions on Central, a women’s clothing store owned and operated by Buckham West. Proceeds from the sales of gently-used clothing, shoes and accessories go directly back to the local senior center. I love this environmentally-friendly mission of recycling donated, used clothing. I’ve shopped here and, in fact, found a like-new gray wool pea coat for a bargain $7. It’s kept me warm for multiple Minnesota winters already.

While I’m not in the market for beach clothes like those worn by the store-front mannequin, I know others may be as they plan spring break vacations. No matter, this tropical scene gives me a visual respite. If I focus hard enough and long enough, I can imagine myself ocean-side, hot sun warming my skin, leis layered around my sweaty neck, fish swimming, flamingos flaunting.

This streetscape scene shows snow along the sidewalk and street curbs, a contrast to the tropical scene at Fashions on Central. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo February 2023)

And then, if I walk several blocks south from Fashions on Central to Division Street and aim straight ahead rather than turn right to Buckham West, I can escape, too. Inside Buckham Memorial Library, books set in tropical locations await me. Yes, there’s always a way to flee winter in Minnesota, even when you can’t leave.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


19 Responses to “Flamingos inspire me to escape this Minnesota winter”

  1. beth Says:

    what a creative window design, and easy to see how it could transport you…. and yes, the library is and excellent way to ‘go there’

  2. I love that you put a positive spin on things! 🙂

  3. Such a sweet little shop! I saw some flamingos in a zoo in Canada once and they were such a sad looking bunch

  4. Valerie Says:

    I have seen that window display and thought it was very creative…the illusion of walking flamingos and fish. Clever!
    I, too, enjoy shopping at that clothes closet.

  5. LOVE This – ha! – the leashes just crack me up! We do not have wild flamingos in the area I live and they live at zoos and other attractions here. However, we do have another cool pink bird here that is wild and it is called the Spoonbill. Have to look that up to see for yourself what they look like. Happy Day – Enjoy 🙂

    • I was expecting you to write that you have lots of flamingos in your area, although I don’t know (remember) specifically where that may be. I’ll check out those cool pink Spoonbills.

    • I am in the Tampa Bay area.

      • We do have plenty of lawn flamingos down here – ha! We are in the mid 70’s here already with bright blue skies and shining sun – I wish I could play hooky from work it is so NICE outside.

      • Ah, lawn flamingos…they were a “thing” here in Minnesota for a while with youth groups planting them in unsuspecting people’s snowy yards. To get them removed, you needed to pay. A fun way to raise money for whatever. As I look at cloudy skies and consider our 33-degree temp, I am wishing I could be in Tampa Bay. Enjoy your beautiful day!

  6. Rose Says:

    My sis-in-law lives way up in northern MN, and for her birthday one year, she found her snow-covered lawn sprinkled with flamingos. I’m so ready for winter to be done. I recently went to our local library and checked out some travel books on warmer locales. 🏖️🌞🌴

  7. What a splash of brightness in the winter! That store sounds like a great place to find bargains…hummm… any locally made wool blankets there?😊

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