THERE IS NO PLACE, none, that I’d rather be this time of year than in rural southwestern Minnesota. It is the place of my heart, of my memories, of everything that shaped me into the person, the writer and photographer that I am today.
This place of wide skies and dark rich soil in some of Minnesota’s best farm land claims me still, decades after I left. I left not because I disliked this place, but for education and opportunity. Like so many of my generation.
When I return to visit family here, I feel an ache of absence, that longing for a return to the familiar.
I realize those who’ve never lived on the prairie often fail to recognize its value, its beauty, its power in inspiring creativity. To many, even my own children, southwestern Minnesota seems the middle of nowhere. But to me, this land has always inspired. And it’s somewhere. Home.
When you’ve lived in a place so stark, in a place that exposes you to the elements, where life evolves around the land, you learn to appreciate the details. Like the endless wind. The spaciousness of land and sky. The scent of tilled soil. Rows of corn erupting green from the earth. A lone tree along a highway.
Acre after acre after acre across this land, I take in the rural scenes of farmers working fields, rushing to get crops in during a particularly late planting season.
I notice vehicles kicking dust along gravel roads,
small town grain elevators,
a school bus splashing color into the landscape. I see it all in this place, this middle of somewhere.
This is my joy, to each spring return to my Minnesota prairie roots, to reconnect to the land, to embrace the birth source of my creativity.
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling