Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Roadside art & more in Foley December 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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AN ECLECTIC MIX OF CAST-OFFS rests roadside at the intersections of Minnesota State Highways 23 and 25 in Foley.

I don’t know what to make of this collection. Trucks. Trailers. Wheels. Sections of perhaps culverts and grain bins. All jumbled together.

Storage lot mixed with art, I assess.

 

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If anything, the scene succeeds in grabbing the attention of passersby who, perhaps like me, wonder about the story behind these sculptures, this space.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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In which I see that, yes, winter really has arrived in Minnesota November 22, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:08 AM
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A scene along Minnesota State Highway 23 between Foley and St. Cloud on Sunday afternoon.

A scene along Minnesota State Highway 23 between Foley and St. Cloud on Sunday afternoon, after the sun emerged from grey skies.

THE FIRST SNOWFALL of the season always arrives with considerable hoopla here in Minnesota. As if we hadn’t seen snow that layers the ground in white.

Round hay bales create a snow fence along Highway 23.

Round hay bales create a snow fence along Highway 23.

Last week, sections of my state got plenty of snow. We’re talking two feet in Leader in north central Minnesota. Mixed with high winds, blizzard conditions prevailed in many regions. Down here in the southeastern section? Only flurries. And I’m just fine with that.

Just outside of Monticello.

Just outside of Monticello.

Under grey skies on the flat land north of Monticello, snow dusts fields.

Under grey skies on the flat land north of Monticello, snow dusts fields.

However, a Sunday day trip 2.5 hours north and west of the metro took my husband and me into a snowy central Minnesota landscape.

Along Benton County Road 3 north of Gilman.

Along Benton County Road 3 north of Gilman, snow covers the rural landscape.

And, yes, I confess, I delighted in seeing snow-covered ground for the first time this winter season. There’s something about that initial snow that is magical and pure and, well, beautiful.

I snapped this wintry scene as we pulled into a convenience store/gas station in Foley.

I snapped this wintry scene as we pulled into a convenience store/gas station in Foley on Sunday afternoon.

This truck clearly has not moved in awhile.

This truck clearly has not moved in awhile.

The heavy, wet snow is piled now along the roadside, here in Foley.

The heavy, wet snow is piled now along the roadside, here in Foley.

A rural resident cleans out the end of his driveway along Benton County Road 3.

A rural resident cleans out the end of his driveway along Benton County Road 3.

Some parking lots were treacherously icy, like this one where we turned our van around in Gilman.

Some parking lots are treacherously icy, like this one in Gilman.

As long as you don’t have to deal with the snow and ice. As long as roads are clear, which they were except for icy patches on Benton County Road 3 north of Gilman.

I especially appreciate the visual contrast of red barns, this one north of Gilman, against the white landscape.

I especially appreciate the visual contrast of red barns, this one north of Gilman, against the white landscape.

Everything always seems sharper, brighter on a white canvas.

I photographed this train by the Minnesota State Correctional Facility in St. Cloud. It's heading for Clear Lake.

I photographed this train near the Minnesota State Correctional Facility in St. Cloud. It’s heading for Clear Lake.

Today brings a predicted wintry mix of precipitation to Minnesota. Rain mixed with snow, which likely will create slick roads. That type of winter weather is always unwelcome. But this is Minnesota. I should expect this.

I'm already waiting for spring, even though winter has just started. Here the same train I photographed in St. Cloud passes through Clear Lake as we all wait.

I’m already waiting for spring, even though winter has just started. Here the same train I photographed in St. Cloud passes through Clear Lake as we all wait.

But I don’t have to like it. And I don’t. Is it May yet? The novelty and excitement of seeing the first snowfall has apparently already faded for me.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Snapshots of a small-town wedding day May 10, 2011

TWENTY-NINE YEARS ago this coming Sunday, my husband and I were married in my hometown of Vesta, a place marked, like so many other prairie towns, by grain elevators and the water tower and a one-block-long main street.

Our wedding reception was held at the community hall, an unassuming, nothing-fancy brick building with a stage, wood floors and military uniforms encased in glass. HyVee in Marshall, 20 miles away, catered a chicken dinner as wedding guests pulled up metal folding chairs to rectangular tables angled under crepe paper streamers and white tissue paper wedding bells.

Thoughts of our small-town wedding lingered this past weekend as our nephew Matt married Amber at Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church in Foley. The reception was held in Duelm, a cluster of homes, a church and a restaurant attached to a new event center, smack dab in the middle of the country about 10 miles to the south and west.

There were no crepe paper streamers here or folding chairs or military uniforms. We dined at round tables draped in white cloths and decorated with centerpieces of swimming goldfish and floating candles. (One fish, I should mention here, wiggled between the candle and the vase rim and leaped onto a table.)

While weddings and receptions have gotten much fancier than the simple rural weddings of decades past, some traditions remain unchanged.

Members of the wedding party and guests still decorate the bridal vehicle. That is where I focused my attention Saturday after the wedding service and before the bridal couple emerged from the church.

First I watched the attendants and others decorate the vehicle with words and balloons and beer cans.

Then I watched the kids check out the Durango from afar…

move in close for a peek inside…

eye the Michelob Golden Draft Light beer cans tied to the vehicle rear…

and, finally, enthusiastically, engage in a pick-up game of Kick the (beer) Can.

They had no idea I was photographing them in a perfect moment of childhood play and wedding tradition in a small, central Minnesota town.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling