Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, for the poetic beauty of sunrises & sunsets in Minnesota May 1, 2017

 

SOMETIMES I WONDER if nature can offer anything more beautiful than a sunrise or a sunset. But then I have not seen the mountains of the West or the deserts of the Southwest or the ocean other than the Atlantic once.

 

 

Still, the sunrise and sunset are universal. We all see the same sun, just in different places.

 

 

Farm fields and a wide sky backdropped my youthful vision of the sun. To this day, for me, there’s nothing quite like a prairie sunset, the blazing ball of the sun overwhelming the southwestern Minnesota landscape. Those childhood memories leave me grieving for the sunsets I’ve missed while living in a valley within a city for 33 years. Hillside and trees filter and block the sinking sun.

 

 

Still, living in Faribault, a southeastern Minnesota community situated along rivers and lake, gives me an opportunity to view the sunset waterside. And there is beauty in that, too, in the reflections that dance poetry across water backdropped by a day shifting from twilight to dusk to dark.

 

 

FYI: These images were taken in mid-March from the shores of Wells Lake at King Mill Park along the Cannon River in Faribault. Click here to see additional photos of the above sunset as I entered Faribault along Highway 60 from the east.

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Writing poetry as the sun rises

My fingertips linger within a mere whisper of the keyboard
as I pause, half-thought, words interrupted mid-phrase,
to tilt my head toward the window and the sunrise
spreading gold and pink across the sky like jam on toast.

In that morning moment, I desire nothing more
than to dip my fingers into the jar of dawn,
to sample her sweetness, to taste of her earthy goodness,
to delight in sunshine and rain and succulent fruit plucked from vines.

But language beckons me back to the keyboard,
to dip my fingers into the jar of words,
to choose and shape and share the poetry that rises within me,
in rhythm and verse upon the breaking day.

 

FYI: My poem about the sunrise published in Poetic Strokes, A Regional Anthology of Poetry From Southeastern Minnesota, 2012.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Thanksgiving morning December 2, 2014

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Thanksgiving morning sunrise between Faribault and Kenyon

 

THE SUN WAS BEGINNING to edge into the landscape as we aimed east out of Faribault along Minnesota State Highway 60 toward Kenyon on Thanksgiving morning.

I’d been awake since 5 a.m., unable to sleep. Shortly before 6 a.m., I rose to shower, grab breakfast, pack and head out the door for the 300-mile drive to Appleton, Wisconsin, south of Green Bay to visit our daughter.

 

Driving into Kenyon, the view of the rising sun is temporarily blocked.

Driving into Kenyon, the view of the rising sun is temporarily blocked.

 

Snow ribboned the pavement, whitened the land, locked the temperature in the icebox category. This was not the Thanksgiving I envisioned. The world seemed more Christmas-like than November.

But this is Minnesota and, after living here my entire life, I should accept that the weather is unpredictable. I’d just shoveled more than a half a foot of snow from our driveway and sidewalk the day prior.

 

Thanksgiving morning sunrise 2

 

These thoughts rolled through my brain as the sun eased above the earth in a brilliant, blinding orb. On this day of national thanksgiving, I was grateful to be on the road with my husband, closing the miles between us and the daughter I love and cherish.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

When your day fails to go as planned January 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 10:30 AM
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I RECENTLY READ somewhere—and I read a lot—if you want to make God laugh, plan your day.

Well, God must have been rolling on the floor, laughing until he cried and his belly hurt on Thursday because I had one of those days. You know, the kind that veers completely from your intended course of action.

My main goal for the day was to finish pulling together financial information for the professional who completes our taxes. Now those of you who know me, either personally or via this blog, realize how much I detest numbers. Math whiz I am not. And to add to the stress this year, I once again need to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid after a two-year respite. I despise forms, especially when numbers comprise the bulk of the required information.

I never got to the numbers on Thursday.

Rather, I spent most of my morning researching information for a document my husband needs for a church meeting on Sunday. I’m happy to help him, but I never thought the project would consume hours of my time.

I expect God was getting a chuckle out of that, his subtle reminder that perhaps I should give just a little more of my time to him.

The rest of the day slipped away in work-related issues with precious little time for writing.

Have you noticed the repeat of the word “time” in all three of the above paragraphs? Why am I so obsessed with time?

Despite my day failing to go as planned, I knew I had a delightful evening ahead. My husband and I had been planning for weeks to attend a presentation by Minnesota photographer Doug Ohman who has published a series of “Minnesota Byways” books.

But then, 50 minutes before Ohman’s talk, my husband called. The car had broken down on his way home from work and he needed a ride and a tow.

Long story short, we missed Ohman’s 6 p.m.presentation. (Who chooses these times anyway?)

After a late supper, kitchen clean-up and e-mail catch-up, I finally kicked back in the recliner to finish the final chapters in Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel by John Kriesel as told to Jim Kosmo.

About then, God must have been muttering to himself, “Well, she thinks she’s had a bad day…”

He was right, of course. Put in the perspective of all the problems and tragedies a day can bring, my Thursday rated as just fine, thank you. My legs weren’t blown off in a roadside blast. I wasn’t fighting to live. None of my friends had been killed in Iraq.

Minnesota National Guardsman Kriesel had dealt with all of that and managed to overcome, to be positive, to move forward with his life. His story is about as inspiring as any you’ll ever read.

And then, when I finished that book Thursday evening, I picked up Conversations with the Land by Jim VanDerPol, a Chippewa County farmer and writer. I’m only a few essays into his book, but already I appreciate the approach he takes to the land and to life in general. He pauses to notice, to savor, to value his land and his role as tender of the earth. His writing resonates with me, reconnects me to the prairie of my youth, the land that still influences my writing.

And so my Thursday ended and a new day has begun with a sunrise so splendid that my husband called to tell me about it, as he often does when the morning sky is especially beautiful.

The remnants of today's sunrise as viewed from my office window.

Several weeks ago, I started penning this poem after pausing to watch the sunrise:

Jam on toast

My fingertips lift within a mere whisper of the keyboard

as I halt, half-thought, words interrupted mid-sentence,

to tilt my head toward the window and the sunrise

spreading gold and pink across the sky like jam on toast.

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In that morning moment, I want nothing more

than to dip my fingers into the jar of dawn,

to sample her sweetness, to taste of her earthy goodness,

to delight in sunshine and rain and succulent fruit plucked from vines.

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PERHAPS TODAY should be the day I finish this poem.

Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Red in the morning December 3, 2010

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Sunrise, December 3, 2010, Faribault, Minnesota

MY HUSBAND ALERTED ME to the beautiful sunrise this morning when he came to kiss me goodbye. I snapped up the shade in my office, gave him a hurried peck, and grabbed my camera, all the while explaining that I was sorry but I had to get a photo before the red sky disappeared.

I was right in not waiting, because, just like that, the red faded into the grayness of the day.

“Red at night, sailors’ delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.”

That’s holding true here today in Faribault. Around noon, light snow began falling. As the afternoon advanced, the snowfall got heavier and heavier, piling into inches. Flakes are still falling strong and steady on this day of the red sky morning.

Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling