Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota Faces: A Minnesota blogger January 9, 2015

Portrait #2:  Audrey, unfashionably dressed Minnesota blogger

 

Bundled up to ring Salvation Army bells 2013

 

Baby, it’s cold out there.

I’d intended to run a different portrait today. But when weather intervened, I pulled out this selfie, which isn’t really a selfie. My husband, Randy, took this photo of me on December 7, 2013, after ringing bells, outdoors, for the Salvation Army. The temperature hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit.

I bundled into Randy’s insulated Dickies coveralls, topped those with a heavy fleece-lined sweatshirt, wrapped two scarves around my neck, pulled on a Mrs. Claus hat and snugged into warm mittens and felt-lined snow boots for our two-hour shift. My goals were minimal skin exposure and warmth. Not fashion.

This past week in Minnesota, you would have spotted many folks bundled up, aiming to stay warm. When I shoveled snow on Tuesday and Thursday, I was dressed nearly exactly as you see in this year-old photo.

With temps plunging well below zero, wind creating “feels like” temps in the minus 30s and 40s and blizzard/white-out conditions in portions of our state, practicality and survival trump fashion.

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This portrait is part of a new series, Minnesota Faces, featured every Friday on Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling, photo by Randy Helbling

 

Moody March in Minnesota March 8, 2012

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An abandoned farmhouse along Minnesota State Highway 19 east of Vesta on the southwestern Minnesota prairie.

WINTER IN MINNESOTA this time of year and in November often seems stripped of color, a drab world of black-and-white mimicking the melancholy mood of those who wish only for spring.

So it takes some effort to appreciate this month of March which can’t quite decide whether to pursue spring or linger awhile yet in winter.

One day she’s dark and brooding, the next bright and cheery. Understanding her mood swings can be a challenge.

Sometimes you just have to accept who she is and realize that even in her colorless world, a certain sense of beauty prevails.

An aging windmill and a cluster of old buildings define this picturesque farm site along Minnesota State Highway 60 just west of Waterville in southeastern Minnesota.

The sweeping curves in the field drew my eye to photograph this scene west of Waterville along State Highway 60.

A lone tree along Minnesota State Highway 60 between Faribault and Waterville on a brooding March morning.

Farm sites mark the landscape along a back county road between New Ulm and Morgan.

All of these images were taken last Saturday morning from a moving vehicle while traveling through southern Minnesota. Each has been edited to create a more artsy, earthy feel.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Downtown Faribault in December in black & white December 22, 2011

The former Security Bank building anchors a corner of Central Avenue in downtown Faribault.

PHOTOS DEVOID of distracting color possess a certain surreal, dreamy quality and a vintage feel that have always appealed to me.

Some of the best images I’ve seen hearken from years ago which just goes to prove that technology doesn’t always equate better results.

While filing through photos I shot in historic downtown Faribault on Saturday afternoon and evening, I decided to play with my photo editing tools and desaturate several images. I liked the results so much that I stripped every frame of color.

The results, I think, impress even more upon the viewer the history of this early Minnesota community that stretches back to its founding by fur trader Alexander Faribault in 1852.

We’re a city rich in history with 40 properties on the National Register of Historic Places.

With that perspective, please join me on a quick photo tour of the downtown area. Certainly much more comprises our downtown than what you see in the seven images here.

I invite you to explore on your own, to immerse yourself in the history that defines Faribault.

Historic buildings along Central Avenue.

Dandelet Jewelry occupies the former 1882 Dandelet Dry Goods building, which was renovated in 1985.

A scene from the movie, "Grumpy Old Men," was shot in the former drug store to the right in this image. Today the building houses a pawn shop.

A holiday display window at Erickson Furniture, in business since 1956 and located along Fifth Street Northwest just a block off Central Avenue. Erickson Furniture won first place in the Main Street window decorating contest with its suspended green chairs, holiday ornaments and lights.

Holiday decorations in a business window along Third Street Northwest just off Central.

A sign in the window of Burkhartzmeyer Shoes, a third-generation family-owned shoe store founded in 1949.

CLICK HERE to read a previous post about Faribault’s historic downtown.

Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Seeking vintage photos November 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:22 AM
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THE OLDER I GET, the more I appreciate my past. That includes those black-and-white vintage photos held in place by gummy black corner tabs and tucked into old photo albums.

I don’t have all that many photos from my youth—only 48 black-and-white prints to be exact. That’s not many. But we were a farm family with little money, and film and photo developing weren’t exactly top budget priorities.

Yet, I am thankful for the precious few black-and-white images I have of myself and with my parents and siblings. Photos capture memories. And memories are integral in my writing, especially my poetry.

But I’m not going to talk poetry here today. Rather I want to talk about love and vintage photos and how you can share yours.

This contest promo image of Mary Nachicas and Don Anderson comes from Nina Hedin, who blogs at ArtsyNina.

I write for Minnesota Moments magazine. Awhile ago, inspired by a vintage image I saw on Nina Hedin’s The Adventures of ArtsyNina blog, I came up with a contest idea, “Snapshots of Love.” Yes, I’ve talked about it here before on this blog. But I want to give it one final push.

Tuesday, November 15, is the final day to submit an entry.

Here’s how you can enter: Look through your vintage black-and-white candid snapshots. (We’re not looking for professional, posed portraits.) Select one that speaks love to you—maybe a snapshot of your grandparents or parents, siblings, friends, cousins, person and pet…

Then write a paragraph of 75 words or less stating what the photo tells you about love.

Then click on this link, http://minnesotamoments.com/current/contest.html, and follow the instructions on how to submit.

I’d highly advise submitting electronically.

We at Minnesota Moments (yes, that includes me) will select a winner to receive a prize package valued at $150. I wish I could win these great prizes:

There, you have it. Please consider entering. And to those of you who have entered due to my pesky e-mails or blog reminders, thank you. I appreciate your submissions.

IF I COULD ENTER, here’s what I’d submit:

Me with the clown cake my mom made for my second birthday in 1958.

I grew up poor. That meant no birthday gifts from my parents. Instead, Mom crafted a cake, often in an animal shape, for each of her children as a gift. When I had children, I, too, created special birthday cakes, although I also had money for gifts. The presents are long forgotten, but my kids still remember their cakes, a tradition of love passed down from their grandma.

WE’LL FEATURE SELECTED entries (or maybe all, depending on space and numbers) in the winter issue of Minnesota Moments, publishing in January.

So let’s see some of those wonderful vintage black-and-white snapshots. Remember, you have only until Tuesday, November 15, 2011, to enter.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Enter this vintage photo contest October 21, 2011

This contest promo image of Mary Nachicas and Don Anderson comes from Nina Hedin of Glencoe, who blogs at ArtsyNina. As part of the prize package, Nina is offering a $25 gift certificate to Camp Honeybelle.

TODAY WE’RE GOING to talk photos.

First, I’d like you to dig out your old photo albums or shoeboxes full of vintage black-and-white images. I am looking for a candid photo (not a formal portrait) that portrays love.

Easy, right? Perhaps you have an old snapshot of your parents or grandparents together. How about a mother-daughter picture? Cousins? Siblings? A person with a favorite pet?

Anything that depicts love will do as long as the photo is vintage, black-and-white and candid.

OK, once you’ve found that single image, I want you to enter it in the Minnesota Moments magazine “Snapshots of Love” contest. You’ll find complete information about this competition by clicking onto the website, minnesotamoments.com, here.

You’ll need to do a teeny, tiny bit of writing to complete your entry. Simply state in a paragraph of 75 words or less what your photo tells you about love. Easy.

If your entry is selected as the winner—and, yes, I’m one of the judges—you will win a prize package valued at $150.

Here’s the prize list:

You do not need to subscribe to this magazine to enter the contest, although we’d certainly love to have you as a subscriber.

The first contestant sent a sweet image of her and her sister riding their shared tricycle on their Otter Tail County farm in 1948. I’m not sharing her story with you, but suffice to say her words moved me to tears.

Entries must be received by November 15.

OK, NOW THAT I have convinced you to enter “Snapshots of Love,” I want to assure you that, yes, indeed, it is possible to win a contest.

Here’s proof. Last year I entered an image in the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans 2011 calendar photo contest. My photo of the cross-topped cemetery fence at Urland Lutheran Church near Cannon Falls was selected from among more than 300 entries to grace the October page of the calendar. Judges were seeking “unique and inspiring images,” according to a letter I received from Thrivent.

My winning image of the Urland church cemetery fence.

The really interesting thing here is that when I took this photo, I didn’t know about the contest. I shot the image when my husband and I stopped at the country church and cemetery while on a Sunday afternoon drive. Months later, when I learned of the “Connecting with the Cross” themed calendar photo competition, I knew I had the perfect entry.

Urland Lutheran Church, rural Cannon Falls

So if you have one of those Thrivent calendars hanging on your wall, that’s my photo you’re looking at during October. You can click here to learn more about the image.

This is not the first time I’ve won a calendar photo contest. My close-up of autumn leaves in the woods made the November page of River Bend Nature Center’s 2007 “Sights and Seasons” calendar.

Prior to that, I won first place, and $100, in a national photo contest sponsored by National Mutual Benefit for a close-up image of a butterfly in my daisy patch.

So there, enter. You could win, too.

TELL ME, RIGHT NOW, in a comment to this blog post, that you will enter the “Snapshots of Love” contest. That would make me happy. If you have questions, ask away. Be sure also to check out the sponsor websites. That would make me happy, too.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling