Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Doggie out the window May 3, 2018

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I’M ALWAYS INTRIGUED by dogs hanging their heads out vehicle windows.



Are they smelling something?

Do they delight in the wind blowing through their fur?

Or are they simply enjoying the warmth of the day, the carefree joy akin to riding with the convertible top down?



Whatever the reason, I smile whenever I spot a dog with its head hanging out the window, nose pointed, eyeing me, me him/her…


Photographed through the windshield of our van late Saturday afternoon along Minnesota State Highway 3 in Northfield, Minnesota.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Practicing kindness December 13, 2017

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We each have the power to make a difference through acts of kindness. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


KINDNESS. We all understand the meaning of that noun as niceness, compassion, care and other positive definitions.

But do we take that noun and turn it in to action? Do we practice kindness?

The holiday season offers ample opportunities to extend kindness through donations to charity, volunteering and more.

I thought about that for awhile and considered ways I’ve experienced and offered kindness in recent days. Not in remarkable and expected ways, but in everyday life. Simple actions that exude kindness.

On Saturday, a young boy held the door open for me at my local public library. For my husband, too. I delighted in such good manners, such thoughtfulness from someone so young.

Later, after I left the library, I had the opportunity to practice kindness. I spotted a library card on the sidewalk. Rather than walk by, I picked up the card and took it to the front desk. A man observing that action thanked me as he’d once lost a library card and understood the negative consequences.

While shopping at Target on Sunday, I overheard a woman frantic to find her lost cellphone. I offered to call her phone in hopes the ring would pinpoint its location. She accepted my help. Eventually, she found the phone, which had already been turned in to customer service. A domino of kindness gave this story a happy ending.

Kindness also comes from Faribault’s Paradise Community Theatre. Before striking the set of a recent play, the stage crew allowed several of us to take parts of the backdrop to use for next summer’s Vacation Bible School at our church. Those set sections were otherwise destined for the garbage. This gift will save our set designer and builder a lot of time.

On Saturday, Randy and I delivered fruit baskets to two aging friends as part of the Angel Tree outreach at our church. There’s such joy in giving, in extending and receiving kindness.

How about you? How have you transformed the noun kindness into action? Or tell me about kindness gifted to you.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Post-election choices November 13, 2016



IN A WEEK THAT’S BEEN particularly difficult for our country, let’s pause and reflect on the goodness we can each do. Individually.

We can choose to be kind. We can choose to listen. We can choose to be respectful. We can choose to act like adults and not like bullies on the playground.

We can smooth the rough surfaces we’ve etched with our words.

We can empathize and offer compassion and be gentle with one another.

We can choose love over hatred.

We have the choice. Which will you choose?

I direct you to Minnesota Public Radio’s story, “Na-na-na-na No-no: A guide to post-election etiquette,” and to Twin Cities Christian radio station KTIS and Jason Gray’s song, “With Every Act of Love.”

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


A prompt to lighten up & have some fun November 2, 2016

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LIKE A SCENE from The Wizard of Oz, the witch riding a bicycle drew me in for a closer look.

And that’s when I focused on the sign:




I don’t condone wicked behavior in the sense of something evil or criminal. But wicked behavior defined as fun and of no harmful consequence to anyone, that I can support.

How about you? What wicked fun behavior have you participated in?

FYI: The witch photographed here is located next to the scarecrow display at the 100 Ladies and Gentlemen Craft Sale in Kenyon. I posted about the scarecrows yesterday. If you haven’t read that piece, click here.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Dog gone happy May 11, 2016

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Waiting at a stoplight on Cedar Avenue in Apple Valley Sunday afternoon.

Waiting at a stoplight on Cedar Avenue in Apple Valley Sunday afternoon.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT A DOG sticking its head out a vehicle window that makes me smile as in, gosh, look at that happy canine.

Still waiting...

Still waiting…

Such behavior also exhibits a carefree spirit. I wish life for humans was as simple as the rush of wind on our faces, the freeing of worries to the wind.

The light changes and, oh, the exuberance of all that rushing air.

The light changes and, oh, the exuberance of all that rushing air.

Why do dogs stick their heads out vehicle windows? I wanted a scientific answer, not just my poetic perspective.

Enjoying the ride...

Enjoying the ride…

My unscientific research (aka google the question) reveals that dogs exhibit this wind catching behavior not to observe the world around them or to cool off, but rather to take in the overload of scents rushing over them. The higher the air flow, the more they can smell. And that, apparently, makes for one happy dog.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling