Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A perfect summer day in Minnesota June 6, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:23 AM
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The sun sets on the prairie at River Bend Nature Center in Faribault on Sunday evening.

SUNDAY BROUGHT as perfect of a day as we have here in Minnesota. Sunshine. High temps without the humidity. No wind. A day to linger outdoors until the sunlight fades into the dark calm of a perfect summer evening.

Honestly, do days get any better than this?

In Minnesota, we gather these days into our memories, filing them away for the brutal months of winter, of bitter cold temps, snow (dare I mention that word?) and too much darkness.

For now we choose to celebrate the days of summer with family and friends, backyard barbecues and icy beer, laughter and conversation.

Here’s to the arrival of summer and the banishment of winter to some hinterland far, far, far away from Minnesota.

A deer I spotted just inside the nature center. (If only I had a telephoto lens.)

I saw this deer atop a hill at the nature center as my husband and I were leaving after a short hike. Same deer?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Summer is only five months away January 21, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:20 AM
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ON BRUTAL, double digit subzero days like today, when the cold invades your lungs, when tires crunch against brittle snow, when the cold air cuts sharp like a knife, when cars groan, when schools start two hours late, we Minnesotans wonder if winter will ever end.

It will.

In five or six or seven months we’ll have forgotten the cold and the snow and the ice and the long, dark days of winter as we enjoy…

a summer evening at a county fair…


corn-on-the-cob, garden-fresh potatoes and grilled pork chops…


the dog days of summer…


picking strawberries at a Minnesota berry farm…


native prairie coneflowers in bloom…


the sweet scent of freshly-mown alfalfa…


fishing from a dock or a boat…

instead of on the surface of a frozen lake.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


 

The sweet taste of summer in Minnesota June 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:16 AM
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Black raspberries ripen on vines in my Faribault, Minnesota backyard.

ALREADY, SPLOTCHES OF PURPLE stain my fingertips. Thorns scratch across my forearms as I ferret for more fruit. My skin itches. Mosquitoes swarm. I pick a hair-thin, squiggling worm from a tiny berry.

Yet, I continue to reach and pluck, reach and pluck, occasionally popping a juicy black raspberry into my mouth. As the seeds crunch against my teeth, as the slightly-tart berries burst upon my tongue, I relish this first taste of summer.

After a long Minnesota winter, these berries tempt my senses. I admire their deep purple, near-black, color. I caress their daintiness, savor their sweetness.

Daily I pick enough berries to fill a small bowl.

Soon I’ve filled a small bowl with the wild morsels that grow on thorny vines tumbling out of the woods next to my backyard.

Later, I’ll toss handfuls onto romaine lettuce I’ve grown. More go into the blender, combined with ice cream and milk for a deep purple shake that bursts with flavor. I mix other berries with vanilla yogurt, bananas and milk to create a healthy smoothie.

But mostly, I grab berries now and then from the bowl that sits on the kitchen counter. Sometimes I wash the raspberries, most often not.

Tomorrow I’ll be back in the berry patch, braving the brambles as I gather this fruit of the earth, these wild black raspberries that taste of sweet summertime in Minnesota.

Wild black raspberries have overtaken a corner of my backyard and I'm just fine with that.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling