Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Beauty in the greying of Minnesota January 13, 2021

Rime ice coats an evergreen tree at the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf in Faribault.

FOG TRANSFORMS THE LANDSCAPE, sometimes in to an unfamiliar place that leaves us feeling disoriented, lost. But other times, like last week here in Minnesota, fog layered trees with rime ice, creating an enchanting, almost magical world. Despite the grey that pressed heavy upon the land day after day.

Set along Minnesota State Highway 3 between Faribault and Northfield, this barn looks lovely any time of year, even in winter. Love love love this weathered building.

Photographing a world covered in frozen fog droplets proved difficult for me. My camera cannot convey the beauty the human eye sees. Yet, I managed a few images that attempt to show the other worldly qualities of a rime ice shrouded landscape.

Even the ice edging water falling over the Cannon River dam by Father Slevin Park in Faribault possesses a distinct artistry.

I find that in winter here in southern Minnesota, I must look harder to notice nature’s beauty. It’s there, but toned down, converted to black-and-white. Grey. Colorless. Yet present.

A broader view of those iced evergreen trees.

Still, I take fewer photos. Not only because I see less to document, but because the very act of exposing my fingers to the cold is uncomfortable. (I’m thankful for mittens that open to fingerless gloves, a thoughtful gift from Randy many years ago.)

I’m also cautious about icy surfaces, lest I fall and break another bone. A broken shoulder and wrist in recent years, one of which resulted in surgery, fuel that cautiousness.

The snow and ice-shrouded Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus is a beautiful and quiet place to walk. I love the many aged buildings including Noyes Hall, pictured here. Some day, post COVID, I need an indoor tour.

And then there’s COVID, which has certainly affected my photographic opportunities. Still, if I determine to look closely at the world around me, decide that my fingers can handle brief cold exposure, I can continue to document, to create, to pursue my passion for photography.

This week brought sunshine to Minnesota, a welcome break from all that dreary grey. We, or at least I, needed it, if anything, as a symbol of hope during these truly difficult times in our country.

© Copyright 2021 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Moody St. Paul December 12, 2014

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GREY DRIFTED OVER THE CITY, layering an eerie mood over downtown St. Paul on a late November Saturday afternoon.

 

St. Paul skyline 1

 

The temp had warmed to hurry from your car to building without a coat warmth as my husband, eldest daughter, son-in-law and I exited the Minnesota History Center.

 

St. Paul skyline 2

 

As we aimed toward the parking lot facing the St. Paul skyline, double church spires drew my eye. So did the red umbrella marking Travelers Insurance. And because I do not know this city well, I could not identify the other buildings in my view except Catholic Charities, marked as such.

 

St. Paul skyline 3

 

But that mattered not, for in that moment angles and fog and mood mingled into a scene worth photographing.

The writer in me was already formulating the plot for a Capitol city mystery, inspired perhaps by the Nancy Drew board game spied inside the History Center.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling