Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Happy spring from Minnesota & DQ March 20, 2017

 

The Dairy Queen along old U.S. Highway 14 in Janesville, Minnesota, in 2012. The sign is vintage late 1940s or early 1950s. Click here to read my story about the Janesville DQ. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2012.

HAPPY FIRST DAY of spring, dear readers!

If you live in a cold weather state like me, you welcome March 20, even if the weather and landscape feel and appear more winter than spring. It’s a mental thing for us Minnesotans, a reminder that the “real spring” is only months away. Spring, in my Minnesota mind, arrives in May.

Over at Dairy Queen, they’re going by the calendar, celebrating spring’s official arrival today with “Free Cone Day.” You can get one free small vanilla ice cream cone at any non-mall participating DQ in the U.S.

And, if you’re so inclined, you can donate to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, DQ’s March 20 fundraiser focus. Because, you know, you’re getting that freebie and you’re generous.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Ice cream season, or not March 8, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

peanut-buster-parfait

 

SPRING HAS UNOFFICIALLY arrived in Faribault. The walk-up/drive-through Dairy Queen along Lyndale Avenue is open.

Sunday afternoon I clipped a $1.99 Peanut Buster Parfait coupon from the Faribault Daily News to celebrate. DQ is a rare treat for Randy and me, afforded only when money-saving coupons are available. Opening weekend at the DQ always brings deals. Perfect.

I envisioned sitting on the DQ patio under sunny blue skies in predicted 60-degree temps. Perfect.

But forecasts do not always equal reality. I suggested Plan B—going to a park. In hindsight, I wonder what I was thinking. After an attempt to eat our parfaits on a park bench, I caved and headed back to the warmth of the van. There we sat, savoring ice cream, peanuts and fudge while grey skies hung and the temp locked at 48 degrees in a still slightly snowy landscape.

Monday brought much warmer temps, like those promised on Sunday, along with intense wind followed by storms. Remaining snow melted.  And two tornadoes touched down, causing damage near Zimmerman and Clarks Grove. These are the earliest tornadoes of the season ever in Minnesota, breaking a record set in 1968. Here in Faribault, we experienced heavy rain and even small hail for a brief time Monday evening. A light dusting of snow fell overnight. The Dairy Queen may be hinting at spring. But winter seems determined to cling to March in Minnesota.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

The greening of Minnesota May 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,
The greening of an abandoned farmsite between Faribault and Morristown.

The greening of a farmsite between Faribault and Morristown.

AUTUMN HAS ALWAYS been my favorite season here in Minnesota. But spring holds an appeal almost equally as strong.

Corn rows emerge in a field near Delhi in southwestern Minnesota.

Corn rows emerge in a field near Delhi in southwestern Minnesota.

We are in the throes of spring with trees now leafed out, dormant grass morphed to life and the black landscape of fields sprouting corn and soybeans, as if a farmer took a green pen and ruler and inked lines across the land.

Minnesota State Highway 68 south of Morgan stretches out behind me in this snapshot taken of the passenger side mirror. Green breaks this monotonous stretch of roadway.

Minnesota State Highway 68 south of Morgan stretches out behind me in this snapshot taken of the passenger side mirror. Green breaks this monotonous stretch of roadway.

On a day trip to Belview and back to Faribault on Saturday, I delighted in the greenery of rural Minnesota. I find visual joy in viewing a landscape transformed. The intensity of green almost hurts your eyes. It’s that vivid.

The steeple of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity emerges from the canopy of trees in New Ulm.

The steeple of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity emerges from the canopy of trees in New Ulm.

I treasure these late spring weeks, for I know this emerald gem is mine for only a sacred short time.

Beautiful greenery in Waseca.

Beautiful greenery in Waseca.

TELL ME ABOUT the season in your part of the country or world. What do you see in the landscape that surrounds you?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Spring in rural Minnesota: The greening of the grey May 7, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I DON’T KNOW IF ANY GREEN is more vibrant than that of spring, especially here in rural Minnesota.

A scene photographed from Rice County Road 15 between Faribault and Morristown, Minnesota.

A rural scene photographed from Rice County Road 15 between Faribault and Morristown, Minnesota.

Green in the landscape after months of grey and white and black dances a visual delight. It’s as if our eyes cannot get enough of lush green grass and the tight buds of leaves unfurling in flashes of green that sway to the rhythm of the wind.

Farmers, such as this one near Wanamingo, are working the land and planting.

Farmers, such as this one near Wanamingo, are working the land and planting.

Soon seeds sown into black earth will erupt in rows of corn and soybeans like a precision marching band overtaking fields.

harvest

A dryer and bin on a rural Rice County, Minnesota, farm await the 2015 harvest about a half a year away.

The beat of the seasons begins. Planting into growing into harvest. A familiar rhythm in this land I love.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Waiting April 27, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
My daffodils are in full bloom here in southeastern Minnesota.

Daffodils are in full bloom in southeastern Minnesota.

THEY’RE POPPING UP here in the north land. Daffodils. Crocus. Tulips. Bulging buds burst or about to burst into the vibrant hues of spring.

Fiddleheads are poking up along the foundation of my house.

Fiddleheads poke up along the foundation of my house.

I’m waiting, waiting, waiting for tulips to loosen their lips, for fiddleheads to unfurl in the rhythm of the wind.

Waiting, always waiting.

Why? Why must I always wait for tomorrow?

Wild day lilies are emerging.

Wild day lilies emerging.

I must delight in today. Green growth. The slow warming of days. The beginning. This transition of seasons.

Garden art that stays on my backyard fence year-round.

Garden art stays on my backyard fence year-round.

There will be time to seed zinnias and spinach, to fill pots to overflowing with greenhouse goodness, to climb the ladder and haul down the garden art, to pull out the lawn chairs and gather around a backyard campfire.

My artist friend Steve Denninger gifted me with this piece of original garden art created from recycled items. It hangs on an old wooden box in my backyard. The box is built from a recycled fence.

My artist friend Steve Denninger gifted me with this piece of original garden art created from recycled items. It hangs on an old wooden box in my backyard. The box is built from a recycled fence.

For now, on this day, in this moment, I must appreciate today. Stop waiting. Maybe tomorrow won’t be better than today and today is actually better than tomorrow. Yes, I must stop waiting and live in today’s season of life. Whatever that may be.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Lilacs May 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:59 AM
Tags: , , , , , ,

EACH MAY HE GIFTS me with the intoxicating scent of spring. A bouquet of lilacs, gathered from a bush in the park up the hill.

Lilac, 1 - Copy

Typically my husband stops on his way home from work, pulls a jacknife from the pocket of his greasy work pants, sometimes stands on the tips of his Red Wing work shoes to saw tough, determined stems clinging to a gnarly bush.

Lilac, close-up

But this year, on the eve he drove down the gravel road into the park, he found the lilacs still tight-closed, not yet ready to unfurl in the chill of a late spring.

Lilac, close-up 2 - Copy

A few days later, en route home from dinner out, I noticed lilacs in full bloom. Instead of turning into our driveway, Randy aimed uphill toward the park, entering past a group of teens playing Frisbee golf.

Lilac, 5 - Copy

I can only imagine their chatter as they witnessed us, in our white mini van, parked beside the lilac bush, Randy cutting lilac stems, me shooting photos.

Lilac, on table 1 - Copy

They do not understand yet—what it means to see your hardworking husband walk through the door each May with an armful of  lilacs, the spring blooms filling your home with the heady scent of love.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Hope unfurls May 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:08 PM
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

LAST WEEKEND, MY DAFFODILS bloomed, bright and brilliant in the first blush of spring.

Photographed Saturday afternoon, the seven inches of snow have mostly melted off my daffodils.

My daffodils, photographed Saturday afternoon, emerging from seven inches of disappearing snow.

Today they lie in a pathetic heap, heads bowed, even buried, in a veil of snow.

A tulip bud, bent to the snow.

A tulip bud, bent to the snow.

Nearby, tulip buds droop, leaves splayed, vulnerable to the frigid air and the rough crystals of melting snow in this endless winter.

Determined day lilies.

Determined day lilies.

In my backyard, determined day lilies soldier up through the snow.

Bendy raspberry branches in bud.

Bendy raspberry branches in bud.

A stone’s throw away, wild raspberries defy the weather, arcing branches, buds unfurling into the promise of spring.

A raspberry bud unfurling.

A raspberry bud unfurling.

Hope. I saw hope today that this longest of all winters may finally exit Minnesota.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling