Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

With thoughtful gratitude on Veterans Day November 11, 2022

A bronze statue titled “Poppie” personalizes the Rock County Veterans Memorial in Luverne as do the names of some 1,600 veterans engraved in pavers. I’ve seen a lot of veterans memorials and this is among the most impressive. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2013)

NEARLY EVERY COMMUNITY has one. A veterans memorial. I appreciate that public recognition of military service in communities from rural to urban. Yet, acknowledgment of our veterans must stretch beyond public memorials.

Today, Veterans Day, I pause to personally thank the individuals who have served our country. That’s important to remember—individual service and sacrifice. I expect most of you can rattle off names of those in your circle who engaged in combat or other military work. They left their homes, their everyday lives, to answer the call of duty.

I feel gratitude to individuals who, either by draft or by choice, stood strong for democracy. Words like courage, commitment, strength, fortitude…filter into my thoughts when I think of our veterans.

But I also think of the physical, emotional and mental challenges too many combat veterans face post-war. I can never comprehend the pain, the trauma, the grief experienced by those who fought in war zones. I only know how my own father, an infantryman in the Korean War, battled the demons of war during his lifetime. That glimpse was enough to elicit deep concern within me.

We are making strides in recognizing and treating post traumatic stress disorder, for example. Not until near his 2003 death was my dad aware of his PTSD. He never got the intervention and help he needed upon arriving home from war. I’m thankful for the help available today, although I expect sometimes it’s not easily-accessible and not nearly enough.

Suicide among veterans remains high. After hearing a few of my dad’s stories of war atrocities and killing, I recognize the emotional and mental tolls on health. Returning to everyday life after experiencing the traumas of war brings challenges civilians will never fully understand. We need to be there for our veterans in ways that matter—support, compassion, care, understanding—with gratitude in our hearts.

TELL ME: If you’re a veteran, what would you like to hear today, Veterans Day? How can we as a country better honor and help you? If you know a veteran, what have you done to honor and help veterans?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Considering deafness (& blindness) while walking at MSAD in Faribault November 10, 2022

A sign posted on a pillar at MSAD and viewed when exiting the campus. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED what it would feel like to be deaf or blind, or both? I remember pondering that from a young age after learning about Helen Keller, who was unable to see and hear. I asked myself which would be harder. I concluded that I’d rather lose my hearing than live in darkness.

I lost most of my hearing in my right ear in 2011. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

Realistically, both present challenges. And, because I am neither blind nor deaf, I really can’t fully understand what it means to live with those disabilities. I do, however, have a partial understanding of deafness.

Achieve. Care. Thrive. ACT banners a sign outside Lauritsen Gym at MSAD. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

Nearly 12 years ago, I lost most of my hearing in my right ear, diagnosed as sudden sensory hearing loss. I know the exact moment it happened. Visits and tests with a local ENT doctor and an ear specialist at the University of Minnesota led to the conclusion that my hearing loss was caused by a viral infection. My hopeful reaction was this—I could get a hearing aid. That is not an option for my type of hearing loss. Thus I’ve learned to live with near deafness in my right ear. Yes, it’s annoying and bothersome that I can’t hear whispers in my right ear, that I can’t tell the location of sound, that white noise and too many conversations at one time make hearing really difficult, that I need people on my left side when they are talking to me. But I manage with one ear.

Bannering the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault, the school’s mascot. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

I’ve been advised by my medical team that, if I ever experience hearing issues with my good left ear, I should consider it a medical emergency and seek immediate care. I will.

Stunning Noyes Hall Auditorium on the MSAD campus. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

I live in a community especially attuned to sight and hearing. Faribault is home to the Minnesota State Academies for the Deaf and the Blind. Here, at two separate campuses on the east side of town, students from all over Minnesota attend residential academies for preschool through high school.

An early childhood scarecrow displayed next to the ball field and green space which center the MSAD campus. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

A Gopher pumpkin head represents the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind mascot. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Side-by-side scarecrows from each academy. Trojans, left at MSAD and Gophers, right at MSAB. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Occasionally on weekends I walk the campus for the deaf. It’s a beautiful setting of mostly historic buildings (many on the National Register of Historic Places) ringing a green space. I last walked there right before Halloween to view the annual scarecrow display. It’s been a school tradition for many years, a bit scaled back now.

Detailed building identifiers of old. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)
Identified as a residential hall for boys. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)
Art on Pollard Hall. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

When on the MSAD campus following sidewalks that take me past buildings where deaf students learn, live, gather, I consider how difficult it must be for families to separate on weekdays. (Some families live locally, thus are not separated.) Yet, I understand the necessity of residential schools that focus on educating and preparing these young people for life. They learn to navigate in a hearing world. And, I expect they learn, too, that their disabilities do not define them, that they can pursue their hopes and dreams.

Sprawling Tate Hall is majestic, historically and architecturally stunning. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo May 2022)

When on the MSAD campus, I consider also how we sometimes take our senses for granted, until they become diminished or we lose them. Aging, or something like my sudden sensory hearing loss, open the door to understanding, to a deepened sense of awareness, to empathy and compassion.

I feel grateful for the reminders, the lessons learned when I walk the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus. To ponder deafness and blindness connects me to a segment of our population which faces challenges beyond my full understanding. To walk these grounds for a short time stretches my mind, opens my heart, broadens my perspective.

FYI: Limit your time on either academy campus to weekends, when students are not there. Be aware that building construction is also underway so follow posted rules.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Post election day focus: peace, hope, love November 9, 2022

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A one-word message, LOVE, banners a mural in Northfield. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2020)

THE DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION, I challenged myself to focus on a positive mindset, to remind myself that no matter the results, I would remember three words. Peace. Hope. Love.

A partial quote from John Lewis, photographed at a Dundas home in 2020. The complete quote: “Let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.” (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2020)

Holding onto those words following an especially contentious campaign season in a country divided on many issues feels vital to my personal well-being and also to the well-being of this nation.

“Peace” art created by Aseneth, 12th grade, Faribault Alternative Learning Center for a 2020 student art show at the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo April 2020)

This is not a political post. I have no desire to discuss politics. Rather my words and images together remind me that we all, at our core, need peace, hope and love. Some days it’s admittedly easier to feel peaceful, hopeful and loving than other days. Yet, peace, hope and love are always there, sometimes subdued, sometimes bold.

A positive message photographed at LARK Toys, Kellogg. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2015)

In consciously choosing these three words on Monday, I scrolled through my files for photos that reinforce peace, hope and love. Whether photographs taken within my home or public spaces, the message remains the same. Peace is possible. Hope remains. Love matters.

This HOPE token from my friend Beth Ann lies on my computer desk. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo April 2020)

On this post election day, I invite you to consider my selected photos. Allow the images to imprint upon your mind and spirit. And then live them.

This shows a portion of a cherished peace painting by Jose Maria de Servin purchased at a recycled art sale in Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo March 2022)

Embrace peace. Feel it calm your mind. Recognize that peace is possible.

This HOPE stone, painted by my great niece Kiera, sits on my office desk. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2015)

Hold hope.

An especially bright spot in the heart of downtown Faribault is the Second Street Garden, a pocket garden with positive messages. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2019)

And, above all, show love. To your family, friends, neighbors, strangers. Love exhibits itself in care, compassion, understanding, kindness and much more. It means self-control, pausing before writing or saying something hurtful. Love means uplifting. Love means doing, helping others. Love means offering hope to someone. Love means being there.

I felt such joy in spotting this message posted along a recreational trail in the Atwood Neighborhood of Madison, Wisconsin in 2020. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2020)

On this Wednesday, may you feel peace, hope, love. You are loved.

TELL ME: What’s your post election day message? No political comments, please.

 

My message to you on election day November 8, 2022

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A message posted on a house in Dundas. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo August 2020)

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The Mystery of the Inflated Mozzarella Cheese Bag November 7, 2022

The unopened bag is rock-hard solid inflated. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo November 2022)

IT’S A MYSTERY, The Case of the Inflated Mozzarella Cheese Bag. To be sure, this is no Nancy Drew mystery like the vintage Carolyn Keene books shelved in my living room. Rather, this mystery centers in my kitchen, on the second shelf of my refrigerator.

Preparing dinner recently, I reached into the fridge for a bag of shredded cheese. What I pulled out stopped me in my meal prep. I held in my hands an unopened, inflated 16-ounce bag of Happy Farms by Aldi low moisture part skim shredded mozzarella cheese. The bag looked like a fully-blown balloon with no air leakage.

What the heck? I’ve never seen anything like this. Ever. Not in an opened or unopened, fully-sealed bag of cheese. My initial thought was that the cheese was old and spoiled as I purchased it sometime ago. I keep multiple bags of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on hand. But the “best by” date is December 22, 2022.

I needed to solve this mystery, or at least gain some insight. So I sleuthed online, leaning into the theory that bacteria growing inside that cheese bag produced the gas which inflated the plastic bag. That makes sense to me, but then doesn’t answer the question of how bacteria got inside an unopened bag of cheese.

Whatever the cause of this mystery, I did not eat that cheese. Rather, I returned it under the “Aldi Twice as Nice Guarantee” with the item replaced, money refunded. In these days of high inflation and soaring food prices, “inflated” has assumed a new meaning.

Before returning the cheese, I sealed the sealed cheese bag inside a plastic bag lest, for some mysterious reason, the bag exploded inside my fridge. As much as I appreciate a good mystery, I didn’t need a sequel, The Case of the Exploding Cheese Bag.

TELL ME: Have you ever seen anything like this in food packaging?

 

Fleeting fall thoughts from Faribault November 4, 2022

Colorful trees photographed from my backyard. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo mid-October 2022)

WE KNOW IT’S COMING. Winter. Yet, we Minnesotans hope for one more glorious autumn day. One more day of warm temps. One more day of no snow. The reality, though, is that this is November and the weather can shift just like that to cold, grey and, well, seasonal.

A maple on my lawn in all its fall glory. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo mid-October 2022)

With the exception of minimal rain in an already drought-stricken state, this fall in southern Minnesota has been exceptional with many sunny, warm days and lovely fall colors.

Autumn brings lots of yard work (like raking leaves) in preparation for winter. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo mid-October 2022)

Minnesota fully embraces autumn with unbridled enthusiasm. It’s as if we need to pack in as much as we can, outdoors especially, before we settle mostly inside for the winter.

The restored clock on the historic Security Bank Building in downtown Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2015)

The end of daylight savings time this weekend signals that seasonal shift. It will get darker earlier and that, psychologically, triggers an awareness of winter’s impending arrival. I find myself just wanting to stay home in the evening, snuggled under a fleece throw reading a good book.

A page from “Count Down to Fall” in the current StoryWalk. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Sometimes that may be a children’s book. Picture books aren’t just for kids. I find the stories and illustrations therein inspiring, entertaining, informative, poetic. In Faribault, Buckham Memorial Library even brings picture books right into the community via a StoryWalk. Pages from a selected picture book are posted in protective casings along several blocks of Central Avenue to the library. The currently featured book is Count Down to Fall written by Fran Hawk and illustrated by Sherry Neidigh.

Book cover source: Goodreads

Recently I listened to Children’s Librarian Deni Buendorf read the book online. I love her enthusiasm as she reads page after page of this rhyming story focused on different leaves—painted maple, oval birch, craggy oak… It’s a perfect autumn read.

Book cover source: Goodreads

Soon this season ends and we enter the long, hard winter months. Interestingly enough, I am currently reading Cindy Wilson’s award-winning The Beautiful Snow—The Ingalls Family, the Railroads, and the Hard Winter of 1880-81. Lest I think winters now are sometimes difficult, I need only reference this book of nonfiction to understand that I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to complain about in the year 2022. Remind me of that come March.

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NOTE: In a project similar to Faribault’s StoryWalk, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport features a Minnesota-authored children’s picture book on panels placed between gates C18 and C19 in Terminal 1. Each book is in place for two months in this Picture Book Parade.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sort of like a broken bone, but not really November 3, 2022

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Look on the lower right side of my wrist to see the surgically-implanted plate, shaped like an ice scraper, and held in place by 10 screws. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo 2018)

WHEN I BROKE my right shoulder one summer and then a year later shattered my left wrist, I needed physical and occupational therapy. Muscles quickly weakened with my shoulder clamped immobile in a sling and my wrist secured in a splint. After months of in-person therapy and at-home exercises, I regained my strength and use of my shoulder and wrist. I felt grateful for the therapy, which was easily accessible and covered under my insurance (although I ended up paying because of my high deductibles).

I also got lots of encouragement following those bone breaks. Cards. Texts. Emails. Calls. Even some meals delivered. When you’re experiencing a health issue, it’s reassuring to feel the support of others.

Buttons photographed at the Northfield Public Library. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

But what if your health issue is a mental health issue? Do you have the same access to healthcare? Does your insurance plan offer sufficient coverage? How do friends and family respond?

A post, “Help needed—therapy information please” published a few days ago by Texas blogger Penny Wilson, and my personal interest prompted me to write on this topic. Penny is seeking information on affordable mental health therapy for her friend whose benefits are soon ending. She understands. Penny, too, faced the same problem when she needed therapy and her insurance would cover only three sessions. Three. Sessions. Penny writes, “3 sessions didn’t even begin to scratch the surface. After that, I was on my own to figure out how to pay for it.”

I’d like to think the experiences of Penny and her friend are the exception. But I don’t believe that, not for a second. First, unlike my easy access to therapy for my broken bones, accessing mental healthcare is difficult at best. At least in Minnesota. Waits are long, if psychiatrists and psychologists are even taking new patients. That often leaves individuals in a mental health crisis seeking care in an emergency room. Unless the hospital has an on-call mental health professional, this is not necessarily the best treatment option. But when you can’t access care any other way…

Whether insurance adequately covers mental health treatment and therapy seems debatable. For Penny and her friend, obviously not.

This message refers to the struggles with mental illness. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo)

And then there’s the topic of personal support. Mostly, it’s lacking. Although we’ve made strides in reducing the stigma of mental illness, we have a long ways to go. Ask anyone who’s experienced a mental health crisis, whether directly or indirectly as a family member, and you will likely not hear stories of tangible support. No meals delivered. No cards sent. No texts. No emails. Primarily silence. There are, of course, exceptions.

Beyond the emotional toll, a mental health crisis can devastate individuals and families financially. Yet, there are no public fundraisers. Again, this traces to the stigma, the lack of understanding, not necessarily a lack of compassion.

Mental illness, in my opinion, is not viewed on the same level as say diabetes or cancer or other debilitating diseases. I’m not taking away from anyone who has dealt with those because they are horrible and awful. But so is a serious mental illness. There are no cures, no single plans of treatment that work for everyone. A med may ease symptoms and then it doesn’t and then it’s start over with a different med. The same for therapy. Imagine the exhaustion and frustration that can set in as individuals struggle to manage anxiety, depression, bipolar and more. It’s a lot.

A mental health-themed sculpture, “Waist Deep,” once stood outside the Northfield Library. This is such a strong visual of reaching for help. (Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2019)

So what’s the point of this post? The point is to educate and raise awareness. The point is to reduce the stigma of mental illness. The point is to encourage you—if you know someone struggling with mental health—to reach out, acknowledge, support. Act. Support their families, too. Offer words of encouragement. Offer financial support if needed. This is their broken bone.

FYI: The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a great resource for information and support. Click here for more information.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Why I thrift & some thrifting finds November 2, 2022

Vintage glasses found in a Northfield thrift store, Used-A-Bit Shoppe. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

VIA UPBRINGING AND FINANCIAL NECESSITY, I am a thrifter. I believe in recycling, reusing, repurposing, upcycling, whatever term you peg to using that which has already been used.

Thrifting is a great way to find affordable art. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

As a child, I occasionally wore clothes stitched from feed sacks. Or maybe they were flour sacks. Doesn’t matter. The point is that farm women like my mom were innovative in crafting clothing for their children. Clothes were passed down from oldest to youngest (ask my sister how much she “hated” my hand-me-downs), from cousins to cousins. Store-bought clothes were always selected from the sales rack.

Furniture crams a space at Used-A-Bit Shoppe in Northfield. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Throughout my entire life I’ve held that perspective of passing along, of not needing new. My first furniture—a worn green arm chair and sofa from the 1950s—in my first apartment came from my parents’ living room. My waterfall desk and kitchen table and chairs came from my maternal Grandpa, chest of drawers from my childhood bedroom. My coffee table was a wooden crate that once held newsprint or some print-related part from Crow River Press, the Hutchinson press that printed The Gaylord Hub, my first place of employment out of college.

These colorful plates caught my eye. Dinnerware is always in stock at thrift shops and garage sales. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Into marriage and child-rearing, I purchased used. Baby equipment and kids’ clothes came from garage sales. Likewise I’ve amassed a vast collection of original art from thrift shops, rummage sales and recycled art sales. Furniture passed down from family or acquired at garage sales or auctions defines most of the furniture in my house. Even today. My dishes are the indestructible Spring Blossom Green Corelle dinnerware, once my mom’s company dishes, now my everyday dinnerware.

An overview of used merchandise in the households section of Used-A-Bit Shoppe, Northfield. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

I’m pleased that items made decades ago continue to function in my home. I feel no need to update. Old is often constructed better than new. Old often holds memories, too. That matters.

A sandwich board outside Used-A-Bit Shoppe, River Park Mall, Northfield. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Even though I’m at that age when I no longer want more stuff, that doesn’t keep me from occasional thrift shopping. That differs from thrift purchasing. If I notice a garage sale while out and about, I’ll stop. The same goes for thrift stores like Used-A-Bit Shoppe in Northfield. Recently I popped into the shoppe in the River Park Mall. Housed in two separate spaces, one area features furniture and the other a mix of glassware, dinnerware, home décor, collectibles, puzzles, books, linens, toys and much much more. Proceeds from the volunteer-run nonprofit benefit FiftyNorth, a gathering place for older adults (and a whole lot more).

Smiley faces were popular when I was a teen in the 1970s. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Each time I meander through a thrift store, I find goods that draw me close. Something will trigger a memory, evoke a feeling, catch my eye. On this visit, a smiley face bowl took me back to the 1970s when sunny yellow smiling faces were everywhere. I even had a smiley face bulletin board in my lime green bedroom.

One of several quilt blocks, some finished, others not. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted file photo September 2022)

I delight, too, in art and vintage glassware. When a Used-A-Bit volunteer showed me a stash of finished and unfinished quilt blocks, I paused to appreciate the handiwork and consider the woman who stitched them. I wondered why anyone would give up this connection to a loved one. We all have our reasons for letting go.

A colorful beverage cart from Costa Rica. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

The furniture side of the shoppe, where I last purchased a framed vintage print of University Hall at Purdue for my son, a graduate student there, presented the most unusual finds of the day. A colorful ox cart/beverage cart from Costa Rica is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I could envision this reused in some utilitarian, fun way. On a patio. At a restaurant. In another shop.

This image shows the size of the 1968 world wall map. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

But the show-stopper of my Northfield thrift shopping was a pull-down 1968 world map. That massive map took me straight back to Vesta Elementary School, to the maps teachers unfurled to open our minds to places beyond the farm fields of southwestern Minnesota. Priced at only $75, I considered the vintage map a work of art, a piece of history, a memory-keeper.

Interesting artsy vessels at Used-A-Bit Shoppe. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

Colorful kids’ chairs just waiting for the right buyer at Used-A-Bit. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

An artsy vase… (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

There’s so much to be found when thrifting. Art. History. Enough to furnish a home. Entertainment. Memories. And in the all of it, this recycling of goods benefits our planet by keeping stuff out of landfills.

The 1968 world wall map up close. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo September 2022)

TELL ME: Are you a thrifter? If yes, where do you thrift and what are some of your most treasured finds?

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

More Halloween-themed scenes in Faribault November 1, 2022

Halloween scene, 4 Third Ave. SW, Faribault. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

IN MY UNSCIENTIFIC OBSERVATIONS, I’ve noticed more Faribault yards decorated for Halloween in a big way this year than in the past. I realize this is the day after, but I expect many decorations will remain in place at least until the end of the week. Why not given all the time, effort and expense involved in creating scenes that mostly scare?

Recently I snapped photos of Halloween scenes in two yards, both up the hill from my house. Because of a locking zoom lens and camera failure (within weeks of one another), my photos are limited. Thus I encourage you, if you live locally, to drive by these residences for the full picture.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Skeletons and skulls seem to play big into this season’s Halloween décor. Maybe they always have. Whatever, they fit the fear factor.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

A skeleton dressed as a clown multiplies the fear as he looms in a tree at 234 First Avenue Southwest. Clowns scare some people. Not me, although I remember not liking them as a kid.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

The First Avenue yard features several over-sized skeletons. When I was there one evening attempting to photograph in the dark with my failing camera, the scene illuminated in green, eyes flashed, something made a creepy sound and fog rose. You’ll need to imagine that given the photos were promptly deleted.

Frankenstein intimidates. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Skulls and graveyards and an assortment of scary fill this yard and the one at 4 Third Avenue Southwest across from the former Immaculate Conception Church. Perhaps most intimidating, though, is the life-sized Frankenstein outside the front door. If I was a kid, that would keep me from seeking candy at that house.

Graveyard at Third Ave. SW. (Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

All in all, these Halloween scenes show the giving spirit of the folks who live here. They obviously love Halloween and sharing their enthusiasm with the community.

TELL ME: Are there any particularly creative Halloween displays in neighborhoods where you live?

NOTE: I purchased a used Canon zoom lens and a used Canon EOS 60D on Saturday. The camera is an upgrade from the used 20Ds (I was on my fourth of the model) that I’ve used for a dozen years or more. I’m happy to have functioning camera equipment again. I appreciate the guidance I got from local photography teacher and creative Johnnie Walker and the excellent customer service from the good folks at National Camera Exchange in Golden Valley.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A creative rooftop Halloween attraction in Faribault October 31, 2022

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

IT’S A HALLOWEEN ATTRACTION, a roadside oddity and creative marketing all rolled into one. That would be the gigantic rooftop ants and skeletons at Francis Animal & Pest Control along busy Lyndale Avenue North in Faribault.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

Drive by the business and you’ll spot four over-sized red ants crawling on the roof and a fifth climbing a ladder, right behind a skeleton. Skeletons ride all the rooftop ants.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

A solo black ant creeps on the roof of the adjacent garage.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

The ants have been in place for awhile. The skeletons are seasonally-new, ideal to celebrate Halloween.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

This staging of ants, and now skeletons, in a highly-visible location certainly attracts attention to a business that specializes in animal and pest control. The business website lists 23 insects, rodents, birds and small animals that it will rid from properties. That includes ants. And bats, lest you experience a Halloween invasion. Feral animals are also on the list, so that could include Halloween-attracting black feral cats.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

But skeletons? Nope, you’re on your own.

(Minnesota Prairie Roots copyrighted photo October 2022)

FYI: To see the rooftop ants and skeletons, take Exit 59 off Interstate 35 onto Minnesota State Highway 21/Lyndale Avenue into Faribault. Drive about a mile and Francis Pest & Animal Control will be on the right side of the highway. You can get a close view from the service road or the recreational trail which runs right past the business. The pest control company is right next to White Sands Dog Park.

© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling