Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Spring photos, spring thoughts May 20, 2019

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THE LEAFING OF SPRING.

 

 

That string of four words defines May in Minnesota. In the past several weeks, I’ve watched buds form on trees, then unfurl into a canopy of mostly green. But also other hues.

 

 

Until you’ve lived through a cold and snowy winter like we did, I doubt you can fully appreciate the magnificence of this season, of viewing these days like a child at play.

 

 

The green of spring appears brilliant. Intense. An incomparable green that locks my eyes onto a lush landscape.

 

 

I almost can’t stop looking, taking it all in. This spring. This denotes the season of hope and new life, of following roads that lead to the promise of better days ahead.

 

TELL ME:  What in nature signals spring for you?

© Copyright 2019 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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The season of autumn in images & words October 23, 2018

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AS LEAVES SPIRAL IN BURSTS of wind to the ground, the season of autumn nears the exit here in Minnesota.

 

 

We are all cognizant of that impending departure. The farmers as they hurry to harvest crops. The squirrels as they gather and hide walnuts. And those of us who still have yards to prepare for winter.

 

 

I feel that pressure. To get the leaves raked,

 

 

the flowerbeds cleaned, flowerpots emptied,

 

 

the tabletop fountain hefted above garage rafters.

 

 

I wish for more days of cobalt skies, sunshine blazing warmth onto my back as I rake leaves, stuff them into trash cans.

 

 

 

 

I wish until I realize that by wishing, I am missing the season. So I grab my camera and turn it toward the maple leaves on the solo tree in our backyard, toward the woods edging our property, even to the neighbor’s bare branched trees.

 

 

Of course, I wish I could slow time, grab back summer days, hold onto each leaf stem yanked by the wind. But I can’t.

 

 

Every season brings its joys, its sorrow, its light, its darkness. That is a given. I can yearn for another season. Or I can choose to embrace the season in which I am living.

THOUGHTS?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

My first photo shoot after breaking my wrist September 11, 2018

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MY PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY runs deep. Like my love of words. Together they comprise this blog. Take away one and balance vanishes. My photos illustrate my words and my words my images.

But this summer, after slipping on rain-slicked steps and breaking my left wrist in early June, I could no longer use my camera. It takes two hands to operate my DSLR—one to hold the camera and click the shutter button and the other to support and manipulate the lens.

 

 

I knew my blogging would be intermittent without the ability to gather new content with my camera. But I had no choice except to post less often and to snap the occasional passable photo with my smartphone.

 

 

Given my orthopedic doctor’s initial timetable for my recovery, I expected the camera ban to last until the end of September. But as healing and therapy progressed, he gave me an early out, freeing me from my splint in late August and approving photography—with the admonition not to do “anything silly.” Whatever that means.

 

 

Upon my return home after that medical appointment, I grabbed my camera and stepped into the backyard to try my hand at photography. These are my first images post bone break and implant surgery. I quickly learned that I could not manipulate my telephoto lens. I simply did not have the strength. I have since exchanged that long and heavy lens for a regular lens. That I can twist.

I’m easing back into photography, realizing that if I push my passion too much, I risk slowing my recovery. It feels great to have my hands back on my camera.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Hints of autumn in Minnesota September 11, 2017

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ALREADY THE EARTHY HUES of autumn brush the Minnesota landscape. Touches of red and orange and yellow tip trees now spiraling leaves onto grass and asphalt and sidewalks.

I delight in autumn, a season I welcome for the crisp nights that birth mornings of warm sunshine. Each day seems a gift to hold heart close.

 

 

Summer memories fly on the wings of butterflies dipping among fading plants—milkweed and goldenrod and petunias drying in pots.

The air carries the scent of corn ripening, the anticipation of harvest approaching, the promise of the yield.

 

 

And in the evening, when the sun slips too soon into darkness, when I close the windows against the overnight cold, I smell still the spicy aroma of chili ladled into handcrafted bowls shaped of the earth. And I am grateful for this season of autumn in Minnesota.

 

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Glorious autumn in my Minnesota backyard October 24, 2014

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I SHOULD HAVE RAKED leaves this week. Should have.

A view of my backyard taken from the back steps shows the one maple tree that has dropped all those leaves.

A view of my backyard taken from the back steps shows the one maple tree that has dropped all those leaves.

But I couldn’t. Couldn’t because there’s something wonderful about stepping out the kitchen door into a backyard blanketed by golden maple leaves.

Focusing up at the leaves still clinging to the maple.

Focusing up at the leaves still clinging to the maple.

Wonderment of color and earthy scent and crackle of dried leaves underfoot.

Garden art given to me by my mom several years ago.

Garden art given to me by my mom several years ago is surrounded by fallen leaves.

Oh, how I love this season, this Autumn.

Garden art still staked outdoors copies the hues of leaves and sky.

Garden art still staked outdoors copies the hues of leaves and sky.

The hues and scents and crispness endear me to October.

Posing Grant Wood style after raking leaves.

Posing Grant Wood style after raking leaves. The ground is once again strewn with a layer of leaves.

I thrilled in watching cousins—my two great nephews and a great niece—gather leaves by rake, hand and wheelbarrow into a pile for hiding and jumping.

My great nephew, who just moved to rural Faribault from Utah, didn't quite know what to think of being placed atop a leaf pile.

My great nephew, who just moved to rural Faribault from Utah, didn’t quite know what to think of being placed atop a leaf pile.

Oh, to be a kid again.

The monster leaf on the left measures nine inches across, here compared to a more normal-sized maple leaf.

The monster leaf on the left measures nine inches across, here compared to a more normal-sized maple leaf.

I marveled, along with Deb visiting from the Iron Range, at the nine-inch span of a leaf dropped by the backyard maple. Neither of us had ever seen a maple leaf so large. She took it back home to show her husband, who’s never traveled south of Minneapolis.

I'm in no hurry to rake the leaves in my backyard. This fountain rests on a patio table.

I’m in no hurry to rake the leaves in my backyard. This fountain rests on a patio table.

Autumn is too fleeting to rake her leaves in, to bag and haul them away in unwelcome dismissal.

I'm still hanging laundry outside and will do so until the snow flies. I noticed how this kitchen towel mimics the hues of autumn.

I’m still hanging laundry outside and will do so until the snow flies. I noticed how this kitchen towel mimics the hues of autumn.

I don’t want this glorious season to depart, so why would I hasten Autumn along?

Flower pots are stacked, waiting to be stashed inside the garage.

Flower pots are stacked, waiting to be stashed inside the garage.

Being a life-long Minnesotan, though, I understand the need to prepare for Winter. And I’ve started. Yes, I have. I’ve emptied flower pots of dead plants. I’ve yanked zinnias from the ground. I’ve hauled fern and cactus indoors.

Every day more leaves drop from my backyard maple. I know I will wake up one morning soon and  the branches will be bare.

Every day more leaves drop from my backyard maple. I know I will wake up one morning soon and the branches will be bare.

The leaves, though, will stay for awhile longer.

A garden art angel I have yet to move indoors.

A garden angel I have yet to move indoors.

Oh, how I love this blessed season of Autumn.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Autumn on my doorstep September 12, 2013

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The first maple leaf to fall on my back doorstep.

The first maple leaf to fall on my back doorstep.

I DID NOT STAGE this photo. I noted this single maple leaf on the steps leading to my back door (ignore the need for paint there on the bottom wood trim) and the phrase, “autumn on my doorstep” popped into my brain.

I grabbed my camera and, walla, my first post about autumn. Typically I would be thrilled that autumn is sneaking into southern Minnesota. It is my favorite season with cooler temps, crisp air and stunning hues.

But this year, because of our incredibly long winter with a foot of snow on May 2 (I’m not making this up; click here) followed by a cold and rainy month of June, I was not ready for this arrival of fall. I want more summer with longer days and lazy afternoons and not even the remotest thought of snow.

With a little photo editing, I transformed that leaf on my back steps in to hues we can expect to see in a few weeks, maybe less. Have you noticed the tinge of yellow and orange in the trees here in Minnesota?

With a little photo editing, I transformed that leaf on my back steps in to hues we can expect to see in a few weeks, maybe less. Have you noticed the tinge of yellow and orange in the trees here in Minnesota? Or wherever you live?

I’ve lived here 57 years now. I should know better. This is Minnesota. Unpredictable. Weather always changing. Autumn knocking on my door. Should I let her in?

Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling