Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Too much rain & too little June 17, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY, come again another day.

Driving home in the rain Saturday afternoon near Owatonna.

Driving home in the rain Saturday afternoon near Owatonna.

Minnesotans are wishing just that. Give us some dry weather after this perpetual rainfall which has inundated our state in recent days.

If only we could ship this moisture west…to California.

My friend Norma would certainly welcome it. She tells me of temps over 110 in the southern central valley region. Dirt, not dust, storms brought unhealthy brown fog that lingered for two days. She tells of waves of dirt and brushing dirt from her car.

I cannot imagine.

She worries about valley fever spores that swirl in the arid climate. Valley fever is a lung infection brought on by inhaling a microscopic fungus that is found in the region’s soil.

She is concerned, too, about orange growers and other farmers. Already food prices are rising in grocery stores.

This area of California needs rain.

Just like Minnesota doesn’t need more moisture right now.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Take this weather, California March 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:10 AM
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Daffodils, the first flowers of spring in Minnesota, are springing up during this unseasonably warm March weather.

OH, HOW I TRIED, resisted, told myself not to write on this topic. But I have finally given in to an indisputable Minnesotan urge to discuss the weather.

I will not, cannot, apologize for this geographical predisposition. Weather is always a topic of conversation in Minnesota. Too hot. Too humid. Too cold. Too dry. Too wet. Just like Goldilocks, we are never quite satisfied until…we get weather like this…

…recent string of sunshine-filled mid-March days with temperatures soaring into the 60s and 70s. Typically the weather this time of year is cold, snowy and gloomy, the landscape bleak and depressing.

I suppose we would all feel more grateful if this had been a long cold winter with mountains of snow and sub-zero temperatures. Remember last winter? This season my husband has used our snowblower only once. And this week, as I survey my neighborhood, I spot not a speck of snow, not even under trees or in the north side shade of buildings.

Rather, I see joggers and mothers pushing babies in strollers and a gym class of students running past my house.

I spy tulips and daffodils poking their folded leaves several inches through the soil. I’ve tossed the decaying mulch leaves of autumn from crocuses teasing me with peeks of purple. And Tuesday evening, on a whim, I picked up a packet of spinach seeds. Tell me, is it too soon to sow spinach?

If this weather holds, I expect my crocuses will soon be in bloom, like these I photographed last spring.

I’ve thrown open the windows, allowing the fresh air to sweep indoors, pushing out the closed-up stale air of winter.

Laundry goes out on the line nearly every day now, although I must qualify that even when temps are in the 30s, I hang freshly-washed clothes outside, if the sun is shining. Nature’s dryer will dry clothes in the strong afternoon sunshine of a frigid winter day.

My son has asked me to replace the flannel sheets on his bed with light-weight cotton ones. I’m keeping the cozy flannel on my bed. He is 18; I am 37 ½ years wiser.

My eldest daughter flew out to southwestern California this morning, right into a winter storm predicted to bring significant rain and cold to the West Coast this weekend. So much for warm and sunny California.

How about warm and sunny Minnesota? Eighty degrees predicted today here in Faribault.

A pussy willow snipped on Wednesday from a neighbor's yard.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Obsessed with oranges January 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:41 AM
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Ever since my friend Kathy told me about orange "smiles," I've eaten oranges this way. No struggling to remove the peeling. Just slice and eat. The fruit easily separates from the rind.

EVER CRAVE A SPECIFIC food for days, even weeks?

Lately, I’ve craved oranges.

Now that’s a healthy alternative to the chips and chocolate I sometimes often desire.

While I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons for my orange obsession, I can theorize. This has been a long and snowy winter in Minnesota. When I see and feel and taste an orange, I temporarily escape to a warm, sunny climate like Florida or California. Seriously. If you live in Minnesota, you know exactly what I mean.

Keep sliced oranges handy in the fridge for a quick and healthy snack.

And then there’s the color. Orange. It’s sunny, bright, uplifting. After way too many wake-up-in-the-dark and dark-by-five-o’clock days, I need an orb of cheerfulness to stave off a potential case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Orange is, after all, opposite blue the blues on the color wheel.

Juicy oranges quench thirst and provide Vitamin C.

Oranges also quench my seemingly endless thirst. That thirst, I concluded, is related to my dried out skin which is caused by the furnace running too much and drying out the air during these endless winter days. True or not, a juicy orange hits the spot.

About now you’re probably thinking, what the heck, is this an advertisement for the California Citrus Growers Association or the Florida Orange Growers?

No, rather these are the musings of a winter-weary Minnesotan who tastes summer in an orange.

P.S. I will accept any and all free shipments of oranges to my snow-encased Faribault home. Thank you.


Yes, I became obsessed also with photographing oranges. But this fruit photographs so well, don't you think?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling