Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

February heat wave in Minnesota February 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:50 PM
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SEVENTY-FOUR DEGREES and sunny in St. Louis.

Eighty degrees and sunny in Florida.

Foggy and 40-something-degrees in Minnesota.

Thursday held the promise of another warm day in Minnesota. And by warm, I mean anything above freezing. I expected temperatures to reach near the predicted 60 degrees here in southeastern Minnesota. But I had to settle for the 40s, primarily, I think, because the fog failed to lift until late in the day.

But after this long, snowy winter, I’ll take it…because tomorrow winter returns with colder temps and snow on the way for the weekend.

For now, though, for today, patches of grass edge snow banks that are shrinking in February warmth.

Winter, spring and fall. Four seasons captured in this image I took along the edge of my driveway Thursday.

Puddles form in the low dips of the sidewalk. Mud sucks at my boots as I pick up building debris in my yard. Neighborhood children ride their bikes and zoom on their scooters.

Neighbor kids traded winter coats for sweatshirts and rode their scooters and bikes after school Thursday.

In reality, February is still winter and not the spring I await.

I need only click on my computer and open my e-mail for a reality check.

“As for spring, feel free to head our way. It’s 74 degrees and sunny here today, guaranteed to melt any snow you still have hanging around in Minnesota!” writes my editor from St. Louis, Missouri. I send the e-mail to “trash.”


I can’t escape the taunting, the flaunting. My oldest daughter sends me a text message from Florida, where she arrived last night. “…soon we will go to the beach…it is around 80.”


A vintage lawn chair on my backyard patio remains immersed in a sea of snow. The snow level has decreased considerably, though. Only the tip of this chair has been visible most of the winter.

© Copyright 2011 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