Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Skirting downtown Minneapolis, an essay in words & images August 9, 2017

Minneapolis skyline, #9

 

I NEVER TIRE OF PHOTOGRAPHING the Minneapolis skyline from Interstate 35W. There’s something about the placement, height and shapes of the clustered buildings that appeals to me aesthetically. Add in the reflection of blue sky upon windows and the artistic allure increases substantially.

 

Minneapolis skyline, #10

 

My skyline images, for reasons I can’t explain, always appear to me more paintings than photos. Building edges are soft rather than harsh. That pleases me.

 

Minneapolis skyline, #11

 

If you were to place me in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, though, I wouldn’t be pleased. I’ve always felt boxed in by skyscrapers, by the vertical lines that block views. I am rooted in my native prairie, the broad vistas and wide open spaces an integral part of my being.

 

Minneapolis skyline, #12

 

Still, from a distance, I can appreciate downtown Minneapolis and the high-rises that ring it.

 

Riverside Plaza, designed by architect Ralph Rapson and built between 1971 - 1973, is probably the most recognized apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. Located in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood, the multiple buildings include 1,303 units and are home to more than 4,000 residents. The plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Riverside Plaza, designed by architect Ralph Rapson and built between 1971 – 1973, is probably the most recognized apartment complex in downtown Minneapolis. Located in the Cedar-Riverside Neighborhood, the multiple buildings include 1,303 units and are home to more than 4,000 residents. The plaza is on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Mixed with the apartments, housing for visitors to downtown Minneapolis.

Mixed with the apartments, housing for visitors to downtown Minneapolis.

 

More apartments...

More apartments…I think.

 

Border apartments pack a lot of people into vertical space. I couldn’t live here, though, even if offered a spectacular river view. But I expect neither could these city dwellers move to a rural area with horizontal lines.

 

Minneapolis skyline, #18 apartments

I find the exterior view of these apartments aesthetically pleasing.

 

Just another view of the same apartment complex.

Just another view of the same apartment complex.

 

Where we choose to live is shaped by many factors—jobs, family, economics, amenities and more. And for me, my rural upbringing keeps me rooted outside the city in a place of horizontal vistas.

TELL ME: Why do you live where you live?

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Advertisements
 

Embracing the writing & art of the Northern Great Plains at SDSU April 19, 2017

“The Prairie is My Garden,” a painting by South Dakota artist Harvey Dunn, showcases the prairie I so love. Here I’ve photographed most of a print which I purchased at a yard sale. I bought the art because I liked it and only learned afterward of its value and prominence. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

ONE OF MY FAVORITE PRINTS, “The Prairie is my Garden,” is rooted in South Dakota. The artist, Harvey Dunn, was born in a claim shanty near Manchester, west of Brookings.

I’ve been to Brookings. Once. While in college, I accompanied a roommate to her hometown where her dad owned the John Deere dealership. I don’t remember a lot about that visit except the fancy house in which my roommate’s family lived and our attendance at the annual Hobo Day Parade. That tradition of South Dakota State University, which peaks in a Jackrabbits football game, is going on its 105th year.

As you’ve likely surmised, Brookings is rural oriented, the university known for its ag focused majors. Students, for example, make ice cream and cheese from milk produced at the SDSU Dairy Research and Training Facility. This is a hands-on college that draws many a rural raised student.

 

The promo for Oakwood 2017 features “Dancing with Fire,” the art of Samuel T. Krueger. Promo image courtesy of Oakwood.

 

This university, where students work with farm animals and where the prairie paintings of a noted Plains artist are housed in the South Dakota Art Museum, seems the ideal setting for Oakwood, a literary journal. Featuring the work of SDSU students, staff and alumni and also of greater Brookings artists/writers and others in the Northern Great Plains region, the magazine releases this Thursday. According to the Oakwood website, the journal embraces a regional identity.

I am happy to be part of that identity with the inclusion of my poem, “Ode to my Farm Wife Mother,” inspired by my mom. She raised me and five other children on a dairy and crop farm about 1 ½ hours northeast of Brookings in Redwood County, Minnesota.

 

A gravel road just north of Lamberton in Redwood County. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

Most of the poetry I write is based on prairie life. I write with a strong sense of place. The endless open space and wide skies of the prairie lend themselves to creativity. Within the stark setting of rural southwestern Minnesota, I noticed details—the strength of the people, the blackness of the earth, the immensity of the setting sun, the sharpness of a winter wind, the quiet of stillness. I can trace my poetry, my photos, everything I create, to that rural upbringing. I am honored to have my latest poem selected for inclusion in Oakwood 2017 as a writer from the Northern Great Plains.

#

FYI: A public reception will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at the SDSU Briggs Library & Special Collections for writers and artists whose work is included in Oakwood 2017. Readings and talks will be featured. Because I live nearly four hours away, I can’t be there. When I can share my poem with you, I’ll do so.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Vending rural & rustic in Zumbro Falls October 7, 2016

rustic-hinge-sale-88-sign-on-building

 

TIS THE SEASON OF FALL occasional sales.

 

rustic-hinge-sale-95-overview

 

Although I haven’t shopped one yet, I showed up a day early for The Rustic Hinge Fall Gathering in Zumbro Falls. Not on purpose. My husband and I were on a day trip, no specific destination in mind, when we happened upon a yard full of stuff in the heart of this small southeastern Minnesota river town.

 

rustic-hinge-sale-90-farm-sign

 

Stuff would be defined as collectibles, antiques, primitives and such all with a definitive rural and rustic theme.

 

rustic-hinge-sale-93-rooster

 

My disappointment rated high when I inquired and learned the sale opened the next day. And nope, no early shopping. Except window shopping, minus the windows. Too bad for me.

 

rustic-hinge-sale-87-building

 

I glimpsed new, aged, repurposed and other merchandise in the Hinge’s outdoor lot across the street from a building presumably packed with lots more.

 

rustic-hinge-sale-91-corn-crib

 

You have three more days to shop this occasional sale. That would be today (Friday) from 1 – 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

You can’t miss the sale. Downtown Zumbro Falls is only a few blocks long.

TELL ME: Do you have a favorite occasional sale that you shop?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota skylines January 28, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville.

The Minneapolis skyline as photographed from Interstate 35 in Burnsville. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo, June 2015.

MINNESOTA HAS LONG been divided. Rural vs. urban. The area outside the Twin Cities metro is often referred to as Greater Minnesota or Outstate Minnesota. I don’t mind the “greater.” But outstate? Isn’t every inch of land, every single one of our 87 counties, part of the state of Minnesota?

The division of urban and rural is always most noticeable during the legislative session. Or during road construction season.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area.

Silos mark the rural skyline on a farm in the Prior Lake area. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Despite our division and differences, we are still Minnesotans. And whether you like the busyness of the city or the quiet of the country, or something in between, you can find your right place in the diverse geography of our state.

The gravel road that runs past my middle brother's rural acreage just north of Lamberton, Minnesota.

Just north of Lamberton, Minnesota, in Redwood County, the county in which I was born. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Follow prairie to the Dakotas and hills to Wisconsin. Angle lakes and canoe winding rivers. Secret yourself away in woods or free your spirit under wide skies. Choose an office cubicle or a tractor cab to box you in. Meander along gravel roads or rush along the interstate.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close.

The downtown Minneapolis skyline, up close. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Whatever your preferred skyline, embrace it. Urban isn’t better than rural and rural isn’t better than urban. Not in the sense of a grand, broad statement. But from a personal perspective, we have our preferences. And that is good. Our state needs balance. And we should respect that.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Welcome to St. Charles, Minnesota, Part I November 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Driving through downtown St. Charles, Minnesota, population around 3,700.

Driving through downtown St. Charles, Minnesota, population around 3,700.

ST. CHARLES LIES in southeastern Minnesota farming country just off Interstate 90.

One of two Amish men I spotted doing business in downtown St. Charles on an early September afternoon.

One of two Amish men I spotted doing business in downtown St. Charles on an early September afternoon.

It’s home to a pocket of Amish.

We just missed the Gladiolus Days celebration, promoted in this storefront window. Love the gladiolus "hair."

During my September visit, I just missed the Gladiolus Days celebration, promoted in this storefront window. Love the gladiolus “hair.”

And site of an annual Gladiolus Days celebration. That event honors the late Carl Fischer, once the world’s leading hybridizer of new and distinctive gladiolus.

These friendly locals at the Whitewater Cafe gave us directions to the glad field and Amish farms.

Coffee time at the Whitewater Cafe. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2011.

I’d been to St. Charles several years ago, even dined at the Whitewater Cafe.

A view of the gladiolus field just south of Utica along Winona County Road 33.

A view of the gladiolus field just south of Utica (near St. Charles) along Winona County Road 33. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2011.

I saw the glad fields, the Amish and the historic buildings downtown. But on a return trip in early September, my husband and I took even more time to explore.

Here’s an overall look as we drove into St. Charles from the east, swung through a residential neighborhood and then parked downtown:

On the east edge of St. Charles we spotted this brand new combine along U.S. Highway 14.

On the east edge of St. Charles we spotted this brand new combine along U.S. Highway 14. There’s a John Deere dealer in town.

We backtracked after noticing this sign along the highway.

We backtracked after noticing this sign along the highway.

Unfortunately, the antique shop was closed.

Unfortunately, the antique shop was closed.

Still, I photographed this weathered art out front.

Still, I photographed this weathered art out front.

Next, I was distracted by all these John Deere tractors parked in a front yard. I don't know why.

Next, I was distracted by all these John Deere tractors parked in a front yard. This is a rural community with a John Deere dealer in town, remember.

Next stop, the downtown business district, where I delighted in this lovely mural.

Next stop, the downtown business district, where I delighted in this lovely mural.

The mural deserves close-up attention. I appreciate unexpected art like this.

The mural deserves close-up attention. I appreciate unexpected art like this.

Likewise, flowers add visual interest, greenery and punch to a downtown.

Likewise, flowers add visual interest, greenery and punch to a downtown. They also show community pride and care.

I always enjoy signs, especially creative ones.

I always enjoy signs, especially creative ones.

St. Charles has some aged buildings. Be sure to look up. Many storefronts were "modernized" and thus hide the historic character of the buildings.

St. Charles has some aged buildings. Be sure to look up. Many storefronts were “modernized” and thus hide the historic character of the buildings.

More interesting signs.

More interesting signs. Every small town needs a hardware store.

Now, if I’ve piqued your interest, return tomorrow when I’ll take you inside an impressive St. Charles antique shop.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Shopping at the picker’s market, Part II July 19, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
The barn is filled with goods, from lower level to hayloft.

The barn is filled with goods, from lower level to hayloft.

LOREN MARTIN’S BARN SALE features an eclectic mix of merchandise. Milkers, milk cans, pedal tractors, wooden chairs, crocks, lamps…

One of the many treasures packed into the hayloft.

One of the many treasures packed into the hayloft.

Way too many items to list.

A vendor.

A vendor.

He’s a picker. You have to appreciate a guy like Loren who invites folks onto his rural Medford acreage once a year to pick through his picks and those of selected vendors.

Loren has several old pick-ups for sale.

Loren has several old pick-ups for sale.

I perused his farm yard Saturday afternoon, taking it all in. The kicked back feel. The wind whipping my hair. Gravel drive and pick-up trucks. Rust and metal and memories.

Not sure if this 4-H sign is for sale.

Not sure if this 4-H sign is for sale.

I love this place, the rural junque displayed thereon.

There's plenty to see.

There’s plenty to see.

You have today (Sunday, July 19) to shop, until early evening or until the last shoppers leave. The sale opens at 8 a.m.

A vintage clothespin bag offered by a vendor.

A vintage clothespin bag offered by a vendor.

BONUS PHOTOS:

A vendor set up under the shade trees by the house.

A vendor set up under the shade trees by the house.

Spotted by the hosta.

Spotted by the hosta.

A vendor takes a lunch break.

A vendor takes a lunch break.

Lots of furniture possibilities.

Lots of furniture and decorating possibilities.

An old game for sale.

An old game for sale.

Another view of the merchandise.

Another view of the merchandise.

Stacked inside the barn door.

Stacked just inside the barn door.

Several pedal tractors were for sale, including this one reflected in a mirror.

Several pedal tractors are for sale, including this one reflected in a mirror leaning against a shed.

Vendor's merchandise on the left.

Vendor’s merchandise on the left.

FYI: Click here to read my first post about the Barn Sale. The sale is located at 5415 Frontage Road East, rural Medford, just off Interstate 35 across from the Medford Outlet Center in southern Minnesota.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

If you love vintage, check out this rural Medford barn sale July 18, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:56 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

ATTENTION ALL PICKERS, collectors, decorators, flea market lovers and anyone who’s interested in vintage junque.

Park along the edge of the circle drive or on Frontage Road and then amble up to the Barn Sale.

Park along the edge of the circle drive or on Frontage Road and then amble up to the Barn Sale. And, yes, the barn is packed with stuff.

Loren Martin, food scientist by day and picker on the side, is offering a farm yard full of eclectic old merchandise at his annual Barn Sale in rural Medford today (Saturday) and tomorrow. My husband and I happened upon the sale this afternoon while driving home from Owatonna.

The sale is located along Frontage Road East, about a mile from the Medford Outlet Center round-about.

The sale is located along Frontage Road East, about a mile south of the Medford Outlet Center round-about off Interstate 35.

This is the third year Loren has held his third weekend in July sale at this location, 5415 Frontage Road East, just across Interstate 35 from the Medford Outlet Center. However, he’s been a picker in southern Minnesota for 30-plus years, scouting for goods in barns and elsewhere. He’s from a family of pickers.

One of several vendors.

One of several vendors.

Folks, this sale is worth your drive. In addition to Loren’s finds packed into a barn and sheds and scattered around the farm yard, several other vendors are also peddling their wares.

A snippet of the merchandise for sale.

A snippet of the merchandise for sale. See that striped table in the center. Should have bought it for $20.

The hot items this year, according to Loren, are anything wine or garden related. And galvanized. Furniture for repurposing is also popular with shoppers.

There are lots of vintage wooden pop crates for sale.

There are lots of vintage wooden pop crates for sale.

This picker’s finds are also sold at Urban Finds at the Medford Outlet Center. And, if you’re looking for something specific anytime, ask Loren. He’s always picking.

You're in the heart of farm country in Steele County, Minnesota.

You’re in the heart of farm country in Steele County, Minnesota.

You’ve got until early evening today (Saturday, July 18) and tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. until early evening to shop in this rural setting next to busy Interstate 35, rural Medford. Even if you don’t purchase anything, browsing junque on a farm yard next to tasseling corn fields will give you your country fix.

BONUS PHOTOS:

Lots of rustic and country, including this old door.

Lots of rustic and country, including this old door.

A vendor grabs lunch and settles in next to a bear he's selling.

A vendor grabs lunch and settles in next to a bear he’s selling.

If you'd rather have a deer mount than a bear, another vendor had that. I asked why I often see deer heads at flea markets. The vendor answered, "Because they never sell."

If you’d rather have a deer mount than a bear, another vendor had that. I asked why I often see deer heads at flea markets. The vendor answered, “Because they never sell.”

A Hardware Hank statue.

A Hardware Hank statue.

There are some great old outbuildings on-site, including this corn crib.

There are some great old outbuildings on-site, including this corn crib.

And inside the corn crib, this chandelier was for sale.

And inside the corn crib, this chandelier was for sale.

A vendor's dog.

A vendor’s dog.

Art

Art

Rural art and more.

Rural art and more.

A cupola country touch on the corn crib.

A cupola country touch on the corn crib.

The farm yard and buildings overflow with vintage finds.

The farm yard and buildings overflow with vintage finds.

FYI: Check back tomorrow for more photos from my time at the Barn Sale.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling