Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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