Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Alright, winter, time to leave Minnesota as spring arrives March 20, 2023

Trees bud at Falls Creek Park, rural Faribault, in late May 2022. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo May 2022)

TODAY, THE FIRST DAY of spring, hope springs that this long winter of too much snow will soon exit Minnesota. Most Minnesotans, including me, are weary of days marked by new snowfall that has accumulated, pushing this 2022-2023 winter season into top 10 records in our state.

Asparagus, one of my favorite spring vegetables. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

But now, with the official start of a new season on March 20—the season of new life, the season of planting and budding and greening—I feel a mental shift. Psychologically, my mind can envision a landscape shifting from colorless monochrome to vivid greens. I can feel the warmth of warmer days yet to come. I can smell the scent of dirt released, breaking from winter’s grip. I can hear the singsong chatter of returning birds. I can taste asparagus spears snapped from the soil.

A bud beginning to open in late April 2020. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo April 2020)

All of this is yet to come. I understand that. A date on a calendar doesn’t mean spring in Minnesota. That season is realistically weeks away. April can still bring inches of snow.

Crocuses, always the first flower of spring in my flowerbeds. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo March 2021)

But we are edging toward spring. I feel that in temps sometimes reaching just past 40 degrees. I feel it in the warmth of the sun, shining brighter, bolder, longer. I see dwindling snow packs and exposed patches of grass. I hear spring in vehicles splashing through puddles rather than crunching across snow. I see spring, too, in the endless potholes pocking roadways.

The first line in my winning poem, posted roadside in 2011. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2011)

On this first day of spring, I am reminded of a poem I penned in 2011, a poem which splashed across four billboards along a road just off Interstate 94 in Fergus Falls in west central Minnesota. To this day, publication of that poem remains an especially rewarding experience for me as a poet.

Billboard number two of my spring-themed poem. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo June 2011)

I submitted the poem to the now-defunct Roadside Poetry Project’s spring competition. Poems changed out seasonally in this Fergus Falls Area College Foundation funded contest. It was a bit of a challenge writing a spring-themed poem, as I recall. Not because of the theme, but rather the rules—four lines only with a 20-character-per-line limit. But, as a writer, it’s good to be challenged.

Line three of my Roadside Poetry Project spring poem. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo June 2011)

I suppose you could say the same about Minnesota weather. It’s good to be challenged by an especially snowy winter so we appreciate spring’s arrival even more. Yes, that’s a positive perspective—a way to mentally and psychologically talk myself into enduring perhaps six more weeks of winter in this official season of spring.

The last of four billboards featuring my Roadside Poetry spring poem. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo June 2011)

NOTE: I intentionally omitted any pictures showing snow/winter.

© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Alright, winter, time to leave Minnesota as spring arrives”

  1. Happy Spring, Audrey! I hope you will be out of winter’s grip soon! 🙂

  2. It’s a chilly morning here to start spring but supposed to be in the 80’s by the end of the week! I will take it!

  3. Love reading your poetry – this one especially speaks to me 🙂 We are blooming out here with the fruit trees in our yard and then our bottlebrush is rocking a riot of a red top (stunner!). I cleaned out the bird bath and reset the insert for the bees to drink too. I make sure the birds, bees, and butterflies feel safe and protected with the multiple layers of flowering flora and fauna around their bath too. Here’s to Spring – Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. beth Says:

    what a beautiful and inspirational post. buh-bye, winter, we’ve had quite enough, thank you. welcome home, spring.

  5. John Kellen Says:

    How cool is this! You’re famous Audrey. Perhaps I should come down and get your autograph sometime? As spring arrives, I’m off to the State Capital to participate in Arts Activism week and meet with our local representatives to urge them to continue funding to Southwest Minnesota Arts Council and the Minnesota State Arts Board among others. Tomorrow is predicted to provide a “Wintry Mix” which isn’t exactly my favorite.

    Hope all is well in your world and that indeed Old Man Winter releases his grip. I’m looking forward to the greening of the countryside and flowers yearning to burst free.


    John Kellen

    • John, thank you so much for advocating for the arts and for being an active participant in the creative world. You’re doing important work and I cannot wait to some day view your documentary, maybe even here in Faribault.

      I’m glad you can get out of the snow-socked prairie to the metro. Safe travels, especially if that wintry mix actually happens.

      I love creating which is way more important than any idea that I’m “famous.” But thank you for your enthusiastic support of my writing and photography. I appreciate that, John.

  6. I have to admit that Spring snuck up on me this year. I have had it in my mind that we will be dealing with snow until May. I too have noticed a shift in the weather. The blizzards aren’t dumping as much snow and the temperatures aren’t dipping as low. This too shall pass!

  7. Sandra Says:

    Shared this with a friend who just had her oaks trimmed while they for sure weren’t growing….”thanks, it is a nicely written piece and I enjoyed it this sunny cool spring morning.” Thank you for beautifying our highways!..where are those canvasses now? returned to authors?

    • Sandra, thank you for sharing my spring post with your neighbor and also for sharing her response with me.

      As far as the poetry panels, I have no idea what happened to them. I inquired about getting them when they were near ready to be removed. But I never got a response and so many years have passed. I certainly would have liked these poetry panels to share here in southern Minnesota, or for myself. I think the whole idea of Roadside Poetry is a fabulous way to promote the literary arts.

  8. Rose Says:

    Thank-you for not posting snow pictures, for writing lovely poetry, for politely asking winter to leave, and for dreaming of a colorful spring. 🌸🌷🌞

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