Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Minnesota skylines January 28, 2016

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The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville.

The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, June 2015.

MINNESOTA HAS LONG been divided. Rural vs. urban. The area outside the Twin Cities metro is often referred to as Greater Minnesota or Outstate Minnesota. I don’t mind the “greater.” But outstate? Isn’t every inch of land, every single one of our 87 counties, part of the state of Minnesota?

The division of urban and rural is always most noticeable during the legislative session. Or during road construction season.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Despite our division and differences, we are still Minnesotans. And whether you like the busyness of the city or the quiet of the country, or something in between, you can find your right place in the diverse geography of our state.

The gravel road that runs past my middle brother's rural acreage just north of Lamberton, Minnesota.

Just north of Lamberton, Minnesota, in Redwood County, the county in which I was born. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Follow prairie to the Dakotas and hills to Wisconsin. Angle lakes and canoe winding rivers. Secret yourself away in woods or free your spirit under wide skies. Choose an office cubicle or a tractor cab to box you in. Meander along gravel roads or rush along the interstate.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Whatever your preferred skyline, embrace it. Urban isn’t better than rural and rural isn’t better than urban. Not in the sense of a grand, broad statement. But from a personal perspective, we have our preferences. And that is good. Our state needs balance. And we should respect that.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

In Minnesota: City snow, country snow December 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:18 PM
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Marc Schmidt shot this stunning photo of 7th St. Marketplace in downtown St. Paul early this afternoon.

Marc Schmidt shot this picturesque scene of 7th St. Marketplace in downtown St. Paul early this afternoon.

Ah, winter in Minnesota.

I issued a call earlier today via email for snow reports and I got two, one from the city, one from the country. One came from a life-long dweller of the southwestern Minnesota prairie, the other from a native southern Californian who relocated to St. Paul in October.

Snow layers on patio chairs, rural Lamberton. Photo by Brian Kletscher.

Snow layers on patio chairs, rural Lamberton. Photo by Brian Kletscher.

About mid-afternoon today, my middle brother, Brian Kletscher, reported 8 – 10 inches of snow (since Friday evening) at his home just north of Lamberton in Redwood County.

Low visibility due to falling and blowing snow defined the prairie in this photo taken north of Lamberton around 3:30 this afternoon. Photo by Brian Kletscher.

Low visibility due to falling and blowing snow define the prairie in this photo taken north of Lamberton around 3:30 this afternoon. Photo by Brian Kletscher.

But it isn’t the snow total as much as the wind that’s now causing problems in southwestern Minnesota, where a blizzard warning is in effect.

In the blowing snow, the fenceline is barely visible beyond the garden shed in my brother's yard.

In the blowing snow, the fenceline is barely visible beyond the garden shed in my brother’s yard.

Reports Brian:

It was nice temperature as it was 34 degrees at 1:30 this afternoon. I was moving snow at 1:30 and the wind switched to the northwest at 2:15 bringing more snow and blowing snow into the area. Low visibility at this time.

The Mears Park Stage in downtown St. Paul early this afternoon. Photo by Marc Schmidt.

A snow globe view of Mears Park Stage in downtown St. Paul early this afternoon. Photo by Marc Schmidt.

Several hours to the northeast in downtown St. Paul, my oldest daughter’s boyfriend, Marc Schmidt, is enjoying his first ever Minnesota snowstorm. An apartment dweller with a 12-minute commute to work via the skyway system, he can concentrate on the beauty of the snow rather than dealing with clean-up and travel issues.

Says Marc in a 2:15 p.m. snow report:

I slapped on my Sorels and slushed my way through St. Paul. (To let you know what conditions are like, I got this email the same minute I got an automated email from the city of St. Paul letting me know there is a snow emergency tonight, and it hasn’t stopped snowing since . . .)

Welcome to winter in Minnesota, Marc. Forecasters are predicting several more hours of light to moderate snow for the metro area with snowfall totals of 10 – 15 inches. A winter storm warning continues for the metro and surrounding area.

Snow layers benches in Mears Park early this afternoon. Photo by Marc Schmidt.

Snow layers benches in Mears Park early this afternoon. Photo by Marc Schmidt.

Now, let’s hear your snow stories.

The winter wonderland view in my Faribault backyard around 4:30 p.m. today.

The winter wonderland view in my Faribault backyard around 4:30 p.m. today.

We have only about four inches of snow on the ground here in Faribault.

BONUS: My brother sent this photo, proof that Santa is officially preparing for Christmas:

My brother apparently has VIP access to Santa's wardrobe. Photo by Brian Kletscher.

My brother apparently has VIP access to Santa’s wardrobe.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
Photos courtesy of Brian Kletscher and Marc Schmidt

 

Gravel road on the prairie July 9, 2012

A gravel road just north of Lamberton in southwestern Minnesota.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT a gravel road?

A picturesque farm site on a sultry summer evening as seen from a gravel road north of Lamberton.

It is poetry and peace, country and charm.

You can almost hear the crunch of the gravel in this image.

But it is more. It is small stones crunching under tires and feet as dust rises and lingers, marking the trail traveled.

As the sun sets on the prairie, a truck travels along a gravel road up to a paved roadway north of Lamberton.

It is a marker of townships, the route of massive yellow road graders blading the road surface to a flat finish or heaving snow toward ditches.

It is memories of bumpy school bus rides and squishing into the back seat of the family car between brothers and sisters.

It is Dad’s admonition to always, always, move to the right when cresting a hill.

Utility lines along the same gravel road stretch into forever.

It is the memory of pinpoint stars dotting the pitch black darkness of a prairie night and the sweet scents of wild roses (once) rambling in ditches and of freshly-mown alfalfa and of hay baled and stacked onto a swaying wagon.

A gravel road is all of these to me, and yet, in its most basic definition, it serves as a way to get from point A to point B, and marks borders between town and country.

Standing on the gravel road, I turned south to photograph the cornfield and Lamberton in the distance.

It is a line in a plat book, a route connecting paved roads, a path to a rural home.

It is a gravel road on the prairie.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling