Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Honoring Bishop Whipple’s “unfailing love & hope for humanity” on a mural in Faribault June 29, 2020

The Central Park Bandshell mural on the left honors Bishop Henry Benjamin Whipple. The one to the right features the Faribault Pet Parade and was placed there several years ago.

 

THE RECENT INSTALLATION of an historic-themed mural on the west side of the Central Park Bandshell in Faribault prompted me to look more closely at the man featured thereon—Bishop Henry Whipple.

 

The middle mural panel features a portrait of Bishop Whipple and a summary of information about him.

 

Just across the street from Central Park, the stunning Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.

 

The historic marker posted on the Cathedral bell tower.

 

He is a prominent figure in the history of my community and the history of Minnesota. Explore Faribault, and you will find Whipple’s name on numerous plaques, including across the street from the park at the Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, the cathedral he helped build as Minnesota’s first Episcopal bishop. He’s buried in a crypt beneath the chancel there. The bell tower was dedicated in his honor by his second wife, Evangeline, as “a monument of love and Christian unity.”

 

Posted outside the front door of the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

On the east side of town, Whipple’s name graces an historical marker at The Chapel of the Good Shepherd on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School. He helped found the school, separately first as Shattuck School for boys and St. Mary’s Hall for girls, along with St. James and Seabury Divinity schools, all in Faribault.

 

The soaring tower landmarks the Cathedral. Ralph Adams Cram, architect of St. John the Divine in New York City, designed the Cathedral tower. The tower was added as a memorial to Whipple after his death in 1901.

 

The inscription, in stone, on the bell tower.

 

An historic marker on the Cathedral grounds.

 

As admirable as Whipple’s role in founding educational institutions, it is another facet of this man—his humanitarian efforts—which are often cited in history. The inscription on the Cathedral bell tower states that Whipple’s “unfailing love and hope for humanity have made his life an inspiration far and near.”

 

This panel depicts the relationship between Native peoples and Bishop Whipple.

 

Bishop Whipple’s portrait, up close.

 

Details on a sign outside the Cathedral reference Whipple as “Straight Tongue.”

 

What, exactly, does that mean? To understand, one must consider the time period in which Whipple arrived in Minnesota, just years before the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. He was a missionary and, as such, worked to educate and convert the Native peoples to Christianity and agrarian ways. (Not necessarily the adaptive approach one would take today toward other cultures, but the mindset then.) In his work, Whipple observed poverty among the Dakota and Ojibwe and mistreatment by the government and began to advocate for their rights. The Native peoples called the bishop “Straight Tongue.” That title speaks to their trust and respect for him.

 

The mural, in full, including the right panel recognizing Whipple and his first wife, Cornelia, and his second wife, Evangeline.

 

Whipple was among the few leaders who publicly pressed for sparing the lives of 303 Dakota warriors sentenced to death following the war. President Abraham Lincoln spared or pardoned most, but 38 were still hung during a mass execution in Mankato.

Whipple’s strong public stances on behalf of Native peoples were not necessarily widely-embraced. Rice County Historical Society Executive Director Susan Garwood shared at a presentation I attended several years ago that several assassination attempts were made on the bishop’s life. Following the U.S.-Dakota War, about 80 Native people, under Whipple’s protection, moved to Faribault. Some helped build the Cathedral, a construction process which took from 1862-1869. Additionally, several Dakota and African Americans attended Seabury Divinity School, Garwood noted. That, too, caused concern.

 

The Whipples.

 

But through it all, from the information I’ve read, Whipple remained steadfast, unwavering in his compassion toward Native peoples, advocating for them, loving humanity.

 

FYI: The Mural Society of Faribault actively promotes Faribault history through public murals posted throughout the downtown area, this one the latest. Dave Correll of Brushwork Signs crafted, painted and installed the Whipple mural with help from his team.

For more information about Bishop Whipple, click here to reach MNOpedia.

Or read this post I wrote about a Rice County Historical Society event in 2018. The RCHS features a museum exhibit on Bishop Whipple.

 

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Memorial Day 2020, adapted, from southern Minnesota May 26, 2020

A star marks a veteran’s grave in the Cannon City Cemetery, rural Faribault.

 

THE RADIO PLAYED in the background as I washed dishes Memorial Day morning. I listened to honored veterans speak of the war dead and freedom and why the American flag is folded 13 times. I listened to the local Legion leader read the names of all county veterans who died in the past year. Well over one hundred. And I heard, too, the honking of horns as attendees at my community’s annual Memorial Day program in Central Park “applauded.”

 

This flag pole sits just inside the entrance to the Cannon City Cemetery.

 

COVID-19 changed so many traditions this year—including here in Faribault. There was no parade, no ceremony at the Rice County Veterans’ Memorial, no lunch at the Legion. Only the traditional program continued in the park, but with attendees sheltered inside their vehicles. Others, like me, listened at home to the live broadcast on KDHL radio.

 

U.S. Army Cpl. Elvern Kletscher, my father, in the trenches in Korea, Minnesota Prairie Roots photo 1952.

 

And, as I listened, I thought of my dad, an infantryman in the Korean War. I thought, too, of his buddy Ray, killed by a mortar. Dad saw his friend die. Dad, who died 17 years ago, carried that grief and the horrors of war with him. He suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, undiagnosed until decades after he left Korea.

 

Flags decorate veterans’ graves in Cannon City.

 

I continued washing dishes while the radio played. But when taps sounded, I stopped. To cry. Thinking of my dad. Missing him. The playing of taps often moves me into a place of grief for all the lives lost in war.

 

A past Memorial Day gathering at the Cannon City Cemetery. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Later, Randy and I drove to the Cannon City Cemetery where, on a typical Memorial Day, we would attend a program under the cedar trees. We’ve grown to love this grassroots gathering of rural folks who honor the war dead with music and poetry and inspirational readings. But, because of COVID-19, that event was canceled, too.

 

Rhody Yule’s grave marker.

 

The tombstone of a Civil War soldier buried in the Cannon City Cemetery.

 

And so we roamed among the tombstones, pausing at the flag-marked graves of soldiers, including that of our friend Rhody.

 

I love this serene scene of a bird on a simple woven fence edging the cemetery.

 

Birds chirped.

 

One tombstone features a barn on one side, a tractor on the other.

 

Such beauty in this rural cemetery, from setting to nature’s details.

 

Inside and outside cemetery boundaries, the rural-ness of this place prevails in art. Natural and man-made. I delighted in that.

 

A dove on an aged tombstone brings thoughts of peace.

 

A single white rose, signifying everlasting love, lies on the bench marker for Kevin Kanne. Beautiful.

 

Tombstone art that drew my eye and reminded me of Psalm 23.

 

And the wind, which typically whips on this hillside cemetery, remained still, as if it also understood the need for calm, for reflection, for peace in the storm of COVID-19.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Valuing art now, more than ever April 22, 2020

 

“Peace” art created by Aseneth, 12th grade, Faribault Alternative Learning Center.

 

ART HOLDS SUCH POWER. Through art we express our emotions, unleash our imaginations, re-create the world, make statements, create beauty…the list seems endless.

 

Art from the Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Whether a professional artist or a student creating art for a classroom assignment, artists make a difference.

 

Adna, Faribault Middle School seventh grader, created this piece of art.

 

Their work causes us to think, to reflect, to look inside, and outside, ourselves.

 

Student art covered hallway and gallery walls on the second floor of the Paradise Center for the Arts.

 

Each year students from Faribault area schools exhibit their work at the Paradise Center for the Arts. I photographed selected pieces from that show in mid-March, showcasing some in a blog post on Monday. Today I bring you more of that student art.

 

Lincoln Elementary School fourth grader Yasmin created this bright combo of daisies and oak leaves.

 

The level of talent impresses me. I didn’t possess these skills at this age. Nor do I now. But then my elementary school didn’t offer art classes and choices were limited during junior and senior high school. It was the reality of rural Minnesota in the 1960s and 1970s. Partially because of that art deficit, I deeply value the arts today.

 

Sand art created by Brianna from the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind in Faribault.

 

Yet, I recognize that my exposure to the arts remains limited. For many reasons, including financial. So I am thankful for local access to the arts.

 

A sampling of the student art displayed.

 

I fear for the future of the arts with the current economic crisis in this global pandemic. But I try not to dwell on that because we’re all dealing with a lot right now within our families, businesses and communities. Our top concern needs to be our health—protecting one another from COVID-19 and keeping ourselves safe and healthy.

 

This art by Belle, Faribault Middle School sixth grader, simply makes me happy.

 

Art rates as a welcome diversion from reality, from unproductive mind-wandering to dark places. Art brings sunshine and beauty and bursts of joy.

 

Posted in the front window of the Paradise Center for the Arts, a message of togetherness and strength.

 

Now, more than ever, we are feeling the power of connection via art. Sidewalk chalk art. Paper hearts in windows. Music sung from balconies. Concerts that bring musicians from all over the world together. Dancing in hospital corridors and in living rooms.

 

These snow people make me think of the world coming together. Art by Leighton, Jefferson Elementary School second grader.

 

Art brings us together as people. From Italy to Spain to New York to Minnesota. Now, more than ever, we need art.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A Minnesota student art show viewed through a COVID-19 lens April 20, 2020

An overview of one small section of the student art shown at the Paradise Center for the arts, second floor gallery.

 

BEFORE COVID-19 BROKE here in Minnesota, before we began to social distance and isolate at home, I toured the annual Faribault Area Student Art Exhibit at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault.

 

The Paradise marquee shows the arts center is closed until May 1, maybe longer.

 

As I do each year, I photograph some of that art to showcase here, as a way to celebrate these talented young creatives and to encourage people to view the exhibit. But the Paradise is closed now and that show by elementary through high school students inaccessible.

 

COVID-19 seems so relentless, breathing a firestorm of infection around the world. Art by sixth grader Eric from Cannon River Stem School.

 

Much has changed in the world since I toured this exhibit a month ago. Viewing it now, through the lens of COVID-19, I see the art from a different perspective. Not as the artists created pre-global pandemic, but interpreted in light of today’s crisis.

 

The virus rolls, overwhelms, overtakes. Yet, in the distance are the bright colors of hope. Art by Avery, fifth grader, Cannon River Stem School.

 

I think we’re all feeling this way. We just want this pandemic to stop, for everyone to be safe and well, and for life to return to normal. Art by Nico, second grader, Cannon River Stem School.

 

This art by Henrik, Nerstrand Elementary School second grader, reflects the #aworldofhearts movement to spread the love via placing hearts in windows to show care and love.

 

That’s the thing about art. It’s open to interpretation. We all bring our stories, our histories, our experiences, our insights, our observations, to art. No matter when it’s made or by whom, art is subjective.

 

A month ago, students would have been thrilled to miss a day of school. But now I expect they all wish they were back in class rather than distance learning. This art was created by Jazz, Faribault Middle School seventh grader.

 

While I will always view Lady Liberty as a symbol of freedom, I now also think specifically of New York and how hard this city has been hit by COVID-19. My heart breaks for New York. Art by Wendy, Faribault Middle School eighth grader.

 

I love Minnesota. And I’m thankful for the strong leadership shown by our governor, commissioner of health and others in leading us during this crisis. Art by Max, Jefferson Elementary School fifth grader.

 

Today, while scrolling through my photos from the student art show, I selected art that holds an entirely different meaning than it would have a month ago.

 

We are all hoping for this at some point–a return to normalcy, to doing the things we love. Like camping. Art by Alex, Jefferson Elementary School fifth grader.

 

Take your time to study this student art. Consider your reaction. And read my thoughts (in the captions under each photo) about the art in the light of today’s COVID-19 reality.

 

This superhero art by Audrey, third grader at Lincoln Elementary School, represents all the heroes out there on the frontlines. The doctors, nurses, first responders, grocery store workers…scientists who are working hard to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

THOUGHTS? I’d like to read your reactions to any of the art featured here.

Please check back for more photos from this student art exhibit.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Connecting April 18, 2020

This quarter-sized token, gifted to me some time ago by my friend Beth Ann, lies on my computer desk.

 

IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, you find yourself reaching out daily to check on family and friends. Now, more than ever, it seems important to connect via mail, email, text, phone calls or video chatting. I need reassurance that people in my life are OK and know they are loved and supported. Likewise, people have done the same for me. And more.

 

Face masks crafted by my blogger friend Penny.

 

Earlier this week I received a package from a Texas blogger. I’ve never met Penny, but we’ve followed each other’s blogs for years and also exchanged emails. Inside the padded envelope I found four cloth face masks. Penny, who is an incredibly kind and loving soul, has been sewing masks for people in her community. And beyond. She also included a lovely card and note. Her gift felt like a hug from across the country.

 

Paul Schell, whom I photographed several years ago painting at the park. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

And yesterday I received an equally lovely note from a Faribault artist who grew up in my native Redwood County. I first met Paul several years ago while photographing artists at a summer evening concert. Paul sat far removed from everyone, quietly painting in a corner of Central Park. Since then, his skills as a watercolor artist progressed. Several years back he gifted me with a print of a destination waterfalls in Redwood Falls. And on the card I received Friday was his watercolor of Moland Lutheran Church, which I’ve written about several times on this blog. The card and accompanying note were unexpected. I must add that Paul mentioned a favorite community cafe, Stacy’s Kitchen in Wabasha, per my post the other day about small town eateries. I so appreciate the time Paul took to gift me with his art and his note.

 

The Warner Press blog page shows some of the most recent posts.

 

Cards are a great way to connect. I’ve always been big on sending cards. Last week “Connecting with Cards” was the topic of my blog post for Warner Press, a Christian publishing company based in Anderson, Indiana. I work remotely as Warner’s blog coordinator. I invite you to click here, read that post and then start your own card outreach/ministry.

 

Encouragement from Beth Ann in a mini card.

 

I have one friend in particular, Beth Ann from North Carolina (I met her when she lived in Iowa), who is especially gifted at uplifting and encouraging others. When our family was going through some really difficult times, she sent me cards and extra encouraging items. What a blessing. I felt so loved.

 

Coloring can be calming and therapeutic.

 

We can all spread the love. I think especially of those in nursing homes. Like my mom on hospice and my father-in-law. We’ve received letters from both care centers about ways these facilities are trying to keep loved ones connected via technology. That won’t work for my mom. But I can still mail cards to her. And I’ve thought of coloring a picture, like I did for my two grandchildren for Easter. Sometimes we need to color outside the lines.

And sometimes we need to go old school by picking up the phone and calling those without technology. Voice to voice so we can hear the laughter, the inflections, the worries, the joys. On Thursday I phoned two aunts—one in Missouri and the other in New Jersey. As our conversation grew to a close, my Aunt Dorothy said, “I love you, My Little Princess.” I felt overcome by emotion at those sweet words. “My Little Princess.” It’s the endearing name Dorothy has called me my entire life. She was the big city aunt who occasionally returned to southwestern Minnesota to visit family. Dorothy arrived with tubes of discarded lipstick and jewelry and arms full of love. She would wrap me in a hug and whisper those endearing words, “I love you, My Little Princess.”

Today please take the time to connect with someone who needs to hear that same message—that they are loved.

 

From the front page of the Faribault Daily News.

 

IN LOVING MEMORY

I dedicate today’s post to the Rev. Craig Breimhorst, who died on Thursday due to complications from COVID-19. A resident of my community of some 24,000, Pastor Breimhorst was the first person in Rice County, Minnesota, diagnosed with the virus. He became ill in mid-March, a day after returning from a trip to the Holy Land. He was the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Faribault for 30 years and currently served part-time as pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, West Concord.

Although I didn’t know Pastor Breimhorst, I have read enough social media comments to see how deeply he was loved and valued as a person and as a pastor. Blessed be his memory.

#

Disclaimer: I am paid for my work with Warner Press.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Good Friday: Faith & Art April 10, 2020

Photographed at St. Jarlath Cemetery, Waseca County, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

FAITH INSPIRES ART.

 

Centering the altar is this depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, New Trier, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

In my many years exploring Minnesota’s backroads and small towns, I’ve discovered impressive art in churches and cemeteries.

 

A stained glass window inside Holden Lutheran Church, rural Kenyon, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

From sculpted tombstones to glorious and vibrant stained glass windows, this art inspires, uplifts and illustrates history recorded in biblical accounts. Like Good Friday and the crucifixion of Jesus.

 

In the face of Mary, I see profound grief in losing her son, Jesus. Sculpture photographed at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, New Trier, MN. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Today I’ve selected a few photos from my files that honor Christ, this important day and my Christian faith.

 

A cross in Trebon Cemetery, 10 miles northwest of Faribault in Shieldsville Township. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I appreciate the skills of these artists. Their work stirs emotions. And thoughts, especially of gratitude.

 

A monument in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Buckman, MN., where my mother-in-law in buried. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, August 2012.

 

In the darkness and sadness of Good Friday, I anticipate the light and joy of Easter. Even more so in these current difficult days.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Simple, yet powerful: The paper heart March 30, 2020

Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

 

IN A WORLD THAT TODAY needs all the love we can give one another, the simple act of cutting out and posting paper hearts in windows is spreading the love. Right here in my Minnesota community.

 

In the window of a house along Second Avenue NW in Faribault.

 

While en route to the grocery store and to a local park to walk a recreational trail on Saturday, I spotted paper hearts. In the front window of a house. On the windows of a bank. And covering doors and windows at Rice County Government Services. Those bright displays made me smile.

 

Hearts cover the doors leading into the Rice County Social Services building in Faribault.

 

I had no idea then that this heart art is part of a movement, spread on social media via “A World of Hearts” and “Hearts in the Window” Facebook pages. A woman from Bismarck, North Dakota, started #aworldofhearts. And another from British Columbia started the second group.

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

 

What a great idea. To uplift spirits. To give joy. To connect people in a time when we are all social distancing and staying home due to COVID-19. To spread the love via a world-wide movement. We need this sense of togetherness.

TELL ME: Have you seen heart art in windows in your community? What’s your reaction to this movement? Are you, or will you, join this effort?

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

From Faribault: The art of youth March 6, 2020

A streetscape by Brooklyn, Faribault Lutheran School. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo March 2017.

 

SEVERAL DAYS AGO, I tore a sheet from a coloring book, sat down and colored a picture of a butterfly and flowers for my nearly four-year-old granddaughter. Isabelle asked for art, something she can look at when she misses me. She remembered my comment about thinking of her whenever I see her art displayed on my fridge.

As I colored, including Izzy’s favorite purple and pink, I thought of this sweet little girl and how much I love her. And now this art would visually connect us in our absence from one another.

Art is powerful. In this instance, it shows Izzy that I love her, that I am always here for her, even when I’m not.

 

Viewing student art inside the second floor gallery at the Paradise Center for the Arts. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

This evening marks the opening reception for a favorite annual local art show, Area Student Exhibition, at the Paradise Center for the Arts in historic downtown Faribault from 5-7 pm. Art created by students from elementary to high school age and from 10 area schools will line hallways and gallery space on the second floor.

The show runs through April 10.

Every single year the work of these young artists impresses me. Part of the credit goes to teachers and parents who guide them. But most of the kudos go to the youth. They are the ones who do the work, although I hope they don’t consider creating art to be work or just some assignment they need to finish. I hope they find joy in the thinking, in the doing, in the creative process.

 

Henry Johnson of Nerstrand Charter School created this vivid work of art. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

For those of us who are artists—and I consider myself one as a writer and a photographer—making art is a passion. I love words and writing, whether a blog post, an essay, a feature story, a poem, a short story or a piece of creative nonfiction. I love using my camera to photograph the world around me. I love telling stories via my images and my words. Creating brings me joy.

Will Izzy create like me some day? Who knows? For now she primarily embraces the performing arts, dancing her way into my heart with her sweetness, her hugs, her “I love you, Grandma,” and the occasional ballet performance.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

How a small Minnesota town celebrates the arts & its Czech heritage February 4, 2020

The Montgomery Arts & Heritage Center in small town Minnesota.

 

IN THE HEART OF CZECH COUNTRY, in the small southern Minnesota community of Montgomery, population 3,000, the arts thrive.

 

Photographed in the arts center gift shop.

 

That’s a testament to the devotion of those who care about the arts and about preserving Czech culture and heritage in this self-proclaimed Kolacky Capital of the World. (Kolacky are a Czech pastry.)

 

Beautiful Hilltop Hall with the arts center on the right and a floral and gift shop on the left. A performing arts space is located on the second floor.

 

In a section of historic Hilltop Hall—yes, appropriately named for its hilltop location in the heart of downtown—the Montgomery Arts & Heritage Center centers the arts. I love this place, where I’ve attended theatrical performances and viewed exhibits, most recently vintage photos of western U.S. Native Americans photographed by Edward S. Curtis.

 

The Edward Curtis exhibit in the foreground and the gift shop in the back.

 

Czech glassware in the gift shop.

 

After touring that exhibit, I walked toward the back of the narrow room to the gift shop which features Czech, handcrafted and other goods.

 

Portraits of past Masopust kings in Montgomery.

 

There I also spotted portraits of Masopust kings, young men crowned at the community’s annual Czech Mardi Gras. That celebration is set for noon – 5 p.m. Sunday, February 23, at American Legion Post 79 and includes a costume ball, polka music, silent auction and Czech food.

In April, the Legion hosts an Escape Room Experience fundraiser for the Arts & Heritage Center through Tri-City United Community Ed.

I love how people in small towns work together and support one another. At different times from March into May, the arts center will exhibit the artwork of local elementary, middle and high school students.

The arts center is also honoring Montgomery’s rural-ness with a “Celebration of Farmers and Agriculture” exhibit of art at local businesses from mid-May to the end of October. Work from artists, in any 2D or 3D medium, is being sought with a March 1 registration deadline. To entice entrants, there’s a top prize of $1,000. That’s substantial. Prizes will be awarded during Kolacky Days weekend July 24-26.

 

A sampling of Kolacky Days queen portraits.

 

Jane shows me a group photo of Kolacky Days queens.

 

Czech words I inquired about.

 

As I meandered through the Arts & Heritage Center, I noticed portraits of Kolacky Days queens rimming the room near the ceiling. Jane, volunteering her time to staff the center on the day of my visit, pulled down a group photo of past queens riding together on a Kolacky Days float. She’s of Czech heritage. But she couldn’t translate a posting of Czech words I spotted. Not that I, of German heritage, could translate German words, even if I studied German for six years. I understand.

 

Volunteer Jane stationed near the front door.

 

Jane presented a warm welcome to this exceptional small town Minnesota center for the arts and preservation of the community’s Czech heritage. I encourage you to visit Montgomery. Stop at the Arts & Heritage Center, walk through the main business district, shop the small shops, grab a bite to eat, maybe even a beer at the local brewery. There’s so much to appreciate about Montgomery. (Keep in mind that this is a small town and places are open limited hours.)

 

Quilt art honoring Montgomery’s Czech heritage hangs in the gift shop.

 

This community is the focus of my monthly Through a SoMinn Lens photo essay, publishing soon in Southern Minn Scene magazine.

 

 

FYI: The Montgomery Arts & Heritage Center is open from 2-5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 9 a.m. – noon on Saturdays. It is supported primarily by memberships, fundraisers and donations. Visit the center’s Facebook page for more info on events mentioned in this post.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

A snapshot of Madison, Wisconsin’s capital city January 27, 2020

Wisconsin’s capitol sits atop a hill in the heart of downtown Madison. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2019.

 

MADISON, WISCONSIN, is, if anything, a capital city of vast green spaces. At least that’s my observation after visiting several times. Two of my three adult children now live there. So I’m exploring, getting to know this place that doesn’t feel all that much like a large metro area.

 

Downtown Madison, around the capitol, is one busy place on a Saturday morning during the Farmers’ Market. The way some of the streets come together reminds me of the squares in greater Boston. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2019.

 

I’m comfortable here without skyscrapers defining the cityscape. The lovely domed capitol, set atop a hill, centers the walkable downtown. I’ve been to the Dane County Farmers’ Market there, albeit on a rainy Saturday that didn’t lend itself to lingering. We ducked inside the capitol to avoid the rain.

 

Randy stops to check a photo he took inside the Olbrich Botanical Gardens conservatory. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2019.

 

Madison edges two lakes. Parks along the lakes and elsewhere make this city feel welcoming to someone like me who prefers open spaces. I’ve already visited Olbrich Botanical Gardens three times.

 

Me, thrilled to see my first Andy Warhol original. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo by Miranda, December 2019.

 

And last trip here, I toured the massive Chazen Museum of Art where I delighted in Andy Warhol’s depiction of Marilyn Monroe. The museum, on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, has no admission fee but a donation box.

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo December 2019.

 

But something else grabbed my eye while out and about—a pedestrian with a bicycle wheel strapped to his back. Madison is a bike-friendly place with trails throughout the city. So seeing this should not have surprised me. But, still, it did and caused me to laugh. As a back seat passenger in my daughter’s car, I didn’t have the best spot to get a good photo. But you get the idea.

 

During an October visit, I walked along this recreational/bike trail near my daughter’s home. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 2019.

 

I love this aspect of Madison, this embracing of bicyclists on a great trail system.

TELL ME: Have you been to Madison? What would you recommend I see next visit? I’ve been to the capitol, dined at several restaurants, patronized a cheese shop, but have yet to visit a brewery.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling