Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The greening of Minnesota May 3, 2020

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THIS TIME OF YEAR—early spring in southern Minnesota—I become a tree watcher.

 

 

That may sound odd to an outsider. But to us Minnesotans, who’ve come through another winter, watching trees leaf into a canopy of green doesn’t seem all that strange.

 

 

You can almost see the buds grow and leaves unfurl, a process now well underway. Green tints the skyline. And with warmth and sunshine, those once dormant trees are beautiful to behold.

 

 

Likewise the hillsides are awash in green with plants pushing through the cold earth.

 

 

And tulips open petals, popping vivid hues into the landscape. This is spring in Minnesota. Lovely. In color and in warmth.

 

These tulips from Paula in Holland are popping color into my life. They are in full bloom now in three vivid hues. Just beautiful!

 

See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in the land. (Solomon’s Song of Songs 2:11-12 NIV)

 

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The greening of Minnesota May 23, 2018

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ON A RECENT MAY MORNING, I stepped outside with my aged camera, a Canon EOS 20D DSLR. I hoped to photograph the cardinal I’d heard shrilling within hearing distance. But when I scanned the woods behind my house and the adjoining properties, no flash of red appeared. The sharp song, too, had ceased.

 

 

Instead, I spied a gold finch hidden among the branches of the backyard maple.

 

 

I noticed, too, the green of leaves, how the morning sun danced a rhythm of light.

 

 

No green seems greener than the green of Minnesota in spring. After months of enduring a monotone world of greys, black, browns and white, I need color. Spring gives me that.

 

 

The sky, too, seems bluer, asserting itself with a profound boldness.

 

 

Yet, a softness remains in the landscape, in the unfurling of blossoms dancing in the wind in the light of spring.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

For the love of green September 14, 2017

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Close-up of a canna lily leaf photographed in my backyard.

 

ASK ME MY FAVORITE COLOR and my answer never deviates. It has always been green.

 

A cornfield. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

The appeal of that hue connects to my rural roots and to memories—of lofty cottonwoods, forever cornfields, freshly-mown alfalfa, a sea of grass bending in the wind, a grain wagon, the putt-putt-putting of a John Deere tractor, my high school graduation gown…

 

I love the lighting, the contrast of green shades against dark sky in this photo taken near Medford. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Among the variations of green, I favor the sage, the forest, the tints that tie to nature. And lime green.

 

My vintage 1960s purse, reclaimed years ago from my mom’s toybox. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Lime green pants salvaged from my mom’s basement (did she really save those for 40-plus years?) drape a hanger in an upstairs closet. As a teen I wore those pants with the stick person thin waist and legs flaring to cuffs. I also carried a rectangular lime green purse complementing a lime green suit stitched by an aunt. I still have the purse, but not the outfit. Mom didn’t save everything.

 

Love Story album cover framed at Vintique in Neenah, Wisconsin. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.

 

And then there’s the lime green bedroom. Not now. But then. Back then, when I was a teen, in the days of reading Jonathon Livingston Seagull and believing “love means never having to say you’re sorry” (how stupid is that?) and tacking whatever onto a bright yellow smiley face bulletin board and wearing hot pants and flashing the peace sign.

 

My eyes. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Green holds such memories. And when I look in the mirror, I see, too, the color of my past and of my future. In my eyes. Green eyes.

 

TELL ME: What is your favorite color and why?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Spring in southeastern Minnesota May 10, 2017

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THESE ARE GLORIOUS DAYS in Minnesota. This May. This month when the landscape morphs from greys and browns into the vibrant greens of spring.

 

 

Leaves unfurl a canopy of green.

 

 

Lawns grow lush and sprout crops of dandelions.

 

 

Tulips pop bold colors like exclamation marks in flowerbeds.

 

 

Coiled fiddleheads unwind into feathery ferns dancing in cool spring breezes.

 

 

Bleeding hearts awaken, pushing new growth from stems dangling dozens of pink hearts. Hearts of love and hope and the beating of spring. All of this I see as if for the first time, although 60 springs have passed since I was born a Minnesotan.

 

 

In the countryside, I watch a blue green Ford pick-up truck tool along an Interstate frontage road between strips of greening road ditches.

 

 

I observe, too, farmers working the land. Soon shoots of green will emerge from black soil as corn and soybean seeds erupt in new growth.

This is the season of newness in Minnesota, when anything seems possible. And perhaps it is.

 

TELL ME: How do you view and react to spring, wherever you may live?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The greening of Minnesota May 27, 2015

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The greening of an abandoned farmsite between Faribault and Morristown.

The greening of a farmsite between Faribault and Morristown.

AUTUMN HAS ALWAYS been my favorite season here in Minnesota. But spring holds an appeal almost equally as strong.

Corn rows emerge in a field near Delhi in southwestern Minnesota.

Corn rows emerge in a field near Delhi in southwestern Minnesota.

We are in the throes of spring with trees now leafed out, dormant grass morphed to life and the black landscape of fields sprouting corn and soybeans, as if a farmer took a green pen and ruler and inked lines across the land.

Minnesota State Highway 68 south of Morgan stretches out behind me in this snapshot taken of the passenger side mirror. Green breaks this monotonous stretch of roadway.

Minnesota State Highway 68 south of Morgan stretches out behind me in this snapshot taken of the passenger side mirror. Green breaks this monotonous stretch of roadway.

On a day trip to Belview and back to Faribault on Saturday, I delighted in the greenery of rural Minnesota. I find visual joy in viewing a landscape transformed. The intensity of green almost hurts your eyes. It’s that vivid.

The steeple of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity emerges from the canopy of trees in New Ulm.

The steeple of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity emerges from the canopy of trees in New Ulm.

I treasure these late spring weeks, for I know this emerald gem is mine for only a sacred short time.

Beautiful greenery in Waseca.

Beautiful greenery in Waseca.

TELL ME ABOUT the season in your part of the country or world. What do you see in the landscape that surrounds you?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Lovin’ Minnesota green May 18, 2012

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After a recent hail storm, maple leaves littered my patio. The contrast of green against gray, nature against man-made, struck me. I increased the hue saturation in the green to show the details in the leaf and to create a more artsy image. BTW, as a teen, my bedroom was painted lime green, like this leaf.

GIVE ME GREEN. Not money, although I would accept that. But color.

Vibrant, 1970s hippy lime green.

Dark green as deep as the shadowed forest.

The earthy green of unfurling corn leaves poking through soil.

Mixed shades of green massed in a hillside of trees set against the brooding skies of a moody May evening in rural Minnesota.

I couldn’t take my eyes off this scene northeast of Medford on a recent Monday evening. The lines of light and dark broken by that mass of trees appealed to me visually. And the lighting, oh, the lighting. Perfect. This was shot while my husband and I were traveling along a county road.

Grass green slicing across a field.

The soft sage of dried herbs.

Any green will do.

TELL ME, WHAT hue holds your heart?

Along the same county road near Medford, this near-barren field, sliced by that line of green grass, caught my eye as did the foreboding sky and the light, oh, the luscious light of early evening.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling