Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fallen & broken April 14, 2021

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Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

LAST WEEK, WHILE RAKING leaves off flowerbeds, I came across a bird nest in the grass. Nestled near a retaining wall, by a row of evergreens.

Inside, a pale blue egg lay in the center, next to the broken shell of another egg.

I didn’t touch anything, didn’t move or investigate, simply photographed. And pondered.

Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

How did this nest, woven with such care and perfection by a bird’s beak, claws and body, end up upon the ground? I speculated that strong winds earlier in the day loosened the nest from the shelter of the neighbor’s evergreens. Or perhaps the nest dropped from the maple in our backyard.

Whatever the story, I felt a sense of sadness at the loss. I recognize the realities of the natural world. Of challenges and predators and unhappy endings.

Minnesota Prairie Roots photo.

And that is life. We can choose the materials to build our lives and weave in hopes and dreams, plans and goals. But then along comes a strong wind and, whoosh, just like that our carefully-crafted nests plummet to the earth and we find ourselves struggling, broken. Struggling to rebuild. Wondering why and how this happened. It is then that we need to reach deep inside, to connect with those who listen and care, to remember that we are not alone.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Joy pitches farm fresh eggs June 17, 2016

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WHEN MY FRIEND JOY, whose name matches her joyful personality, approached me after church last Sunday about buying farm fresh eggs, I hesitated. I didn’t really need eggs. And if I did, I could buy them at the grocery store for half the $2 price Joy was charging.


Chickens, coop


But I bought the eggs anyway, because, well, Joy is a persuasive saleswoman. She touted the better taste, the yellower yolks, the free-range aspect of her primarily bug-eating and grass-munching chickens, and the reduction in her cholesterol from daily consumption of her chickens’ eggs. Sold. Yes, please, I’ll take a dozen.


Chickens, black chicken


I have yet to try the eggs, which come from varieties like Rock Island and Buff. I am certain Joy spoke the truth in her sales pitch. She’s no snake oil salesman. I can already predict what will follow. The farm fresh eggs will taste so great that I will no longer be able to eat mass-produced eggs packaged for mass public consumption.


Chickens, buff colored chicken


How about you? Have you eaten and noticed a difference between eggs direct from a small farm vs. those sold by major egg companies?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Oh, the joy of dyeing Easter eggs with an octogenarian April 22, 2014

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SOMETIMES IT IS the unexpected which brings joy.

I did not expect my nearly 82-year-old mother to effuse such enthusiasm over dyeing eggs on the Saturday before Easter.

But she did when I told her days in advance of a weekend visit that I would bring hard-boiled eggs to color in addition to a cooler full of food for our meals.

“I haven’t dyed eggs in years,” she responded, giddy like a kid with anticipation.

Her enthusiasm was precisely what I needed as I had been feeling a bit melancholy about my first Easter in 28 years without any of my and my husband’s three “kids” around. We could easily have skipped the egg dyeing.

But as I rummaged through my mom’s kitchen cupboards looking for containers in which to dye the eggs, I was glad I’d brought those eggs.

Like an eager child, Mom was already struggling to open the tightly-glued package of Easter egg dyes while I counted out six empty “I can’t believe it’s not butter” containers for the dye tablets.

My husband and mom dye eggs at her kitchen table Saturday evening.

My husband and mom dye eggs at her kitchen table Saturday evening.

Eventually we settled at her cluttered kitchen table, bowls of dye before us, spoons and tongs at the ready. Not to worry about spilling on the table, she assured us. So we didn’t. But we didn’t. Spill that is.

Stirring and dipping and dyeing and trading colors.

Stirring and dipping and dyeing and trading colors.

Rather we laughed and talked and dipped eggs in dye and stirred and waited and mused that the purple was more pink than purple, the red dull, the blue especially eye-pleasing.

Ten of the eleven eggs dyed.

Ten of the eleven eggs dyed.

And in the process I realized that long-standing childhood holiday traditions matter. Even to an 82-year-old.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling