Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The power of water, in images & words November 11, 2016

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Lake Kohlmier in Owatonna.

Lake Kohlmier in Owatonna.

WATER. What is it about this compound of hydrogen and oxygen that fascinates us? Or at least me.

The Straight River churns at the Morehouse Park dam in Owatonna.

The Straight River churns at the Morehouse Park dam in Owatonna.

The sound of rushing water, like rushing wind, soothes. It comforts me in the sort of way a lullaby can quiet a crying baby. It’s as if that rushing sound is locked away in our subconscious, there before birth. Undeniable, connecting us to the water womb comfort of our mothers.

Wind-churned water bobbed this mud hen along the surface of Lake Kohlmier.

Wind-churned water bobbed this mud hen along the surface of Lake Kohlmier.

Water’s powerful pull extends well beyond the audible. Water sustains us. Physically. Yet more. Visually, water draws us near to watch its movement—flowing, tumbling, rushing, rocking.

The Straight River flows toward the historic Owatonna Public Utilities building.

The Straight River flows toward the historic Owatonna Public Utilities building.

I am captivated by the musical, rhythmic movement of water.

Still, clear creek water in Kaplan's Woods.

Still, clear creek water in Owatonna’s Kaplan’s Woods.

Sometimes a ballad.

Water rushes over the Morehouse Park dam.

The turbulent waters at the Morehouse Park dam.

Other times rock-n-roll.

A close-up of the churning Straight River as photographed from the Morehouse Park recreational trail bridge.

A close-up of the churning Straight River as photographed from the Morehouse Park recreational trail bridge.

Maybe a turbulent county western song of love lost, love found, too much booze and too many late nights. Bluesy. Sad. Hopeful.

I can rest beside a waterfall, a dam, a creek, a river for considerable time, almost hypnotized by the sights and sounds. It’s as if water washes away my worries, sending them downstream, far, far away. I find peace in water.

A creek in Kaplan's Woods.

A creek in Kaplan’s Woods.

Water holds such power.

TELL ME: What power does it hold for you?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Into the woods on an autumn afternoon in southern Minnesota November 10, 2016

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I DOUBT I’VE EVER SEEN so many oak leaves layering the ground. Thick. Brown. Rustling underfoot.

As my husband and I hiked into Kaplan’s Woods in Owatonna on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the abundance of oaks that distinguishes this city park from other parks/nature centers I’ve visited.

There’s something about an oak that denotes history and strength.

Yet, the distraction of all those oak leaves crackling underfoot doesn’t detract from my ability to notice nature’s details.

 

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Flash of yellow among mostly brown and grey.

 

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Bare (or mostly bare) branches set against a signature cobalt blue November sky.

 

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Fungi laddering up a tree trunk. Beautiful in an artistic, natural way. Like Nature’s sculpture.

 

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And then an unnatural road block at the end of a muddied path. “A gated community,” Randy jokes. And we laugh. Together. In the woods, under the oaks.

 

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In the dirt, initials carved with a stick, an “A” and maybe a “U.” Another Audrey? Probably not.

We turn around, our path blocked. I suggest we return to the main trail into the woods. We’re unfamiliar with this place and I have no intention of getting lost. Neither does Randy.

 

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Leaves crunch beneath our shoes. But then I stop abruptly, swing my camera left toward a moss covered log, the golden light falling just right.

I fail to hear or notice the runner closing in behind us. I’m in the zone, focused on photographing a selected scene. Randy, however, is watchful. He warns me. We step aside and continue on, a biker now barreling toward us on his mountain bike.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Remember this weekend when the snow flies, my dear Minnesotans November 6, 2016

Feeding the ducks in Morehouse Park, Owatonna, Minnesota, Sunday afternoon.

Feeding the ducks in Owatonna’s Morehouse Park on Sunday afternoon.

IF YOU LIVE IN MINNESOTA and did not spend most of this past weekend outdoors, then please do not complain come January. For we have had a gloriously long autumn that has extended in to these early days of November.

Walking on a carpet of oak leaves in Kaplan Woods, Owatonna.

Walking on a carpet of oak leaves in Kaplan’s Woods, Owatonna.

What a gift. What an absolute gift. Each day that the weather remains warm, sunny and without snow means one less day of winter.

Every detail, even leaves in a creek in Kaplan Woods, delighted me.

Every detail, even leaves in a creek in Kaplan’s Woods, delighted me.

For that I am thankful.

Some leaves are still clinging to trees like these by Lake Kohlmier in Owatonna.

Some leaves are still clinging to trees like these by Lake Kohlmier in Owatonna.

Sunshine and warmth defined the weekend, one I documented with my camera. When the snow flies and the temps dip to well below zero, I will pull up these photos and remember the delightful Autumn of 2016. And perhaps that will carry me to spring.

Cruisin' with the top down along Intersate 35E north of St. Paul Saturday afternoon.

Cruisin’ with the top down along Intersate 35E north of St. Paul Saturday afternoon.

Following a gravel road near Clinton Falls in Steele County.

Following a gravel road near Clinton Falls in Steele County on Sunday afternoon.

Finishing the corn harvest south of Faribault Sunday afternoon.

Finishing the corn harvest south of Faribault Sunday afternoon.

Mud hens bob across the choppy waters of Lake Kohlmier.

Mud hens bob across the choppy waters of Lake Kohlmier.

Checking out Lake Kohmier at the boat landing.

Checking out Lake Kohmier at the boat landing.

Taking the 1970s Ford Maverick out for a cruise Sunday afternoon by Lake Kohmier.

Taking the 1970s Ford Maverick out for a cruise Sunday afternoon by Lake Kohmier.

Sunday afternoon fishing along the Straight River in Morehouse Park.

Sunday afternoon fishing along the Straight River in Morehouse Park.

Water churns in the Straight River at the Morehouse Park dam.

Water churns in the Straight River at the Morehouse Park dam.

A recreational trail bridges the Straight River/Morehouse Park dam.

A recreational trail bridges the Straight River/Morehouse Park dam, a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts this weekend.

Lots of dogs were out with their owners.

Lots of dogs were out with their owners.

Almost unbelievable: mowing lawn on Sunday, November 6, in Owatonna.

Almost unbelievable: mowing lawn on Sunday, November 6, in Owatonna.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling