Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Bluff ice art March 31, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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PERHAPS I AM too easily impressed.

But I have not visited the ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Bayfield County, Wisconsin.

Ice formations by La Crosse 1

Thus the ice formations gracing the Mississippi River bluffs along Interstate 90 on the Minnesota side near La Crosse, Wisconsin, impress me.

Ice formations by La Crosse 2

There is no stopping along I-90 to view or photograph this natural ice art up close. Rather, I rely on the rapid fire of my camera to capture the scene for later study.

Ice formations by La Crosse 3

Every time I see this water frozen in the icebox of winter, I marvel at its beauty.

I remember, too, how once upon a time I snapped icicles from the milkhouse roofline to engage in sword fight battles with my siblings.

Ice formations by La Crosse 4

The flip side of my mind views the ice formations as powdered sugar icing dripping down the sides of a homemade chocolate birthday cake baked by my mother.

That’s the thing about art—man-made or natural. It’s always open to interpretation.

FYI: These photos were taken 10 days ago. Since then, the weather has warmed to around 60 degrees in southern Minnesota, meaning these formations are likely disappearing.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Thoughts from a Minnesotan now that winter has arrived January 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:54 AM
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Even I'll admit that snow brings a certain beauty to the landscape, including this view of my neighbor's yard.

AS UN-MINNESOTAN as this may sound, I don’t particularly like winter. I’d grown rather fond of the unusual 50-degree temps earlier this month and a landscape free of snow.

Yet I knew better than to get all smug about the weather, realizing that, at any time, the proverbial shoe (or boot) would drop.

No fashion boots for me...I wear practical Northwest Territory boots.

It did, with temperatures plummeting to below and barely above zero followed by two measurable snowfalls within the past several days.

Snow means work, aka shoveling snow.

Snow means walking with trepidation.

I wasn’t always fearful of walking across snowy or icy sidewalks, driveways or parking lots. But then 3 ½ years ago I had total right hip replacement surgery because of severe osteoarthritis.

I would like to keep that expensive ceramic implant intact for another 17 years. So I tread with caution, eyes locked on whatever slick surface I must traverse. I will myself not to fall. Thus far, the strategy has worked to keep me upright and out of the hospital.

Despite my winter worries, I still shovel snow. However, I questioned the sanity of that effort on Monday as I crunched my way across the ice-glazed, snowy yard toward the sidewalk encrusted in snow and ice.

The car my son drives, encased in ice on Monday. Freezing rain fell before the snow. He walked to school.

I didn’t exactly rush my way through snow removal. More like half-skated.

By the time I finished clearing the sidewalk and the end of the driveway, I truly wanted to give up and leave the rest for the husband or the 17-year-old. But winter wasn’t about to defeat me.

I may not like her, but I sure as heck won’t allow her to get the best of me.

A city of Faribault snow plow spreads salt and sand onto the street by my house on Monday.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling