Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Artistry along Minnesota State Highway 68 January 9, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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STATE HIGHWAY 68 slices diagonally across rich Minnesota farmland southeast of Morgan.

 

 

I often travel this section of roadway until it intersects with Brown County Road 29 when I return to my roots in Redwood County. The angle of the highway in a place where roads typically run in a straight gridded pattern confuses my sense of direction. I must use the sun as my compass. Or remind my mind that highway 68 does not run true north or south, east or west.

Other than the directional issue, I delight in this roadway for the visuals. My photographer’s eye appreciates the power poles that stretch along the highway. Wires loop between poles reinforcing the horizontal lay of this land. There’s just something about the repeating line of poles and wire that artistically pleases me.

 

 

And then there are the sunsets which, in this exposed plain, prove spectacular, even in layers of clouds. Everything—trees, barns, fields—seems insignificant beneath a fiery sun suspended above the land, my native land.

NOTE: These photos were taken several weeks ago.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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The changing prairie view May 14, 2014

Newly-erected power lines, part of the Cap X2020 transmission line project, northwest of Morgan along Minnesota State Highway 67.

Newly-erected power lines, part of the Cap X2020 transmission line project northwest of Morgan along Minnesota State Highway 67, run seemingly into forever.

I FEEL ABOUT MONSTROSITY power lines as I do about wind turbines. I don’t appreciate their visual impact upon the land.

These towering giants, in my opinion, mar the landscape, distract and detract, cause me to feel small, unsettled and insignificant in their presence.

A farm site along Minnesota Highway 67 seems so small in comparison to the new transmission power poles.

A farm site along Minnesota State Highway 67 dwarfed by a new transmission power pole.

Perhaps it’s just the southwestern Minnesota prairie rooted girl in me who values her horizon wide and broad and vertically interrupted only by grain elevators, water towers, silos and groves of trees.

Old style power lines still run along Brown County Road 29.

Old style power lines still run along Brown County Road 29 between New Ulm and Morgan.

I wonder if my grandparents felt the same about the early rural electric co-op posts and lines strung along gravel township roads, the cement stave silos popping up on farms…old water-pumping windmills abandoned.

A cluster of Harvestore silos define a farm northeast of Vesta along Minnesota State Highway 19.

A cluster of Harvestore silos define a farm northeast of Vesta along Minnesota State Highway 19.

I felt a certain discontent when blue Harvestore silos began soldiering into southwestern Minnesota decades ago. They lacked personality and represented, to me, the demise of the small family farm.

Wind turbines in extreme southwestern Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, July 2013.

Wind turbines in extreme southwestern Minnesota. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, July 2013.

These are my thoughts as I travel through my native prairie today. Progress does not always please me. Visually or otherwise.

(This post is cross posted at streets.mn.)

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling