Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

From Farmington, Part I: A quick look at downtown August 7, 2018

 

ON ONE OF THE FIRST warm weekends of spring here in Minnesota, Randy and I stopped in Farmington, a south metro community we’ve visited once prior. It was the kind of sunny late April afternoon ideal for meandering with my camera.

 

 

 

 

Farmington, given its nearness to the Twin Cites and population of 22,000-plus, surprises me with its small town feel. At least in the downtown business district. Here primarily professional services businesses and bars and restaurants occupy space along with minimal retail and government services.

 

 

We popped into two gift shops, but otherwise simply walked through the downtown. On this afternoon, steak on the grill—from the Farmington Steak House and the VFW Steak Fry—scented the gusty winds. Had it been any other time of day than mid-afternoon, we would have been tempted to dine at one or the other. We weren’t even hungry for ice cream from Cow Interrupted! Ice Cream Studio. Next visit.

 

 

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.

 

Around the corner and a block away from the ice cream shop, this town’s agricultural roots remain visible in an aged grain elevator and grain bins. In too many communities, such vintage elevators have deteriorated or disappeared. I hope Farmington folks understand the historic and aesthetic value of these structures, real assets to the downtown.

 

 

 

 

Likewise the Lion’s Club street clock that marks a stunning brick building anchoring a corner in the heart of the business district. I love that clock. And the historic building.

 

 

And the mural on the side of the Farmington Steak House.

 

 

 

 

I delighted, too, in the humor of local marketing and the handwritten note posted by the barber. These are the details that give a town character, that personalize a place, that make me want to return.

 

 

HOW ABOUT YOU? What draws your interest in a community if you are viewing it for the first time during a pop-in visit?

CHECK BACK TOMORROW for a closer look at that Steak House mural as I publish a second post that has been in draft for a few months.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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Mobile in a Minnesota winter, from metro to rural January 17, 2017

The outline of the Minneapolis skyline appears in the hazy distance while traveling along Minnesota State Highway 252.

The outline of the Minneapolis skyline appears in the hazy distance while traveling along Minnesota State Highway 252.

EVEN IN THE DEPTHS of winter, we Minnesotans are a mobile bunch. Snow, ice and cold may slow our pace. But, unless we hibernate, and we don’t, we remain fairly active.

Passing through the Lowry Tunnels always seems visually surreal to me, like driving through a video game.

Passing through the Lowry Tunnel in downtown Minneapolis always seems visually surreal to me, like driving through a video game.

This past weekend, snow-free and warm weather conditions proved ideal to be out and about. I was in “the Cities,” as those of us living outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro call that area. Family draws me there—this trip to spend time with the granddaughter and the in-laws.

Driving toward downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 94.

Driving toward downtown Minneapolis on Interstate 94.

The metro always teems with movement. Vehicles zoom along interstates and other roadways.

 

travel-101-plane-copy

 

Airliners crisscross the sky. Buses carry passengers along city streets. People walk and bike and run. I am always thankful when the busyness of the Cities fades in the rearview mirror. Thankful except for the leaving behind of family.

A man walks his bike along Minnesota State Highway 21 in Faribault on Sunday afternoon.

A man walks his bike along Minnesota State Highway 21 in Faribault on Sunday afternoon.

I prefer the quiet of less urban areas. Peaceful places certainly exist within the metro. But it’s not the same. I am more content in the quiet spaces of my community or small towns or the countryside. Within the familiar. Where fewer people live.

 

travel-130-skiing-at-river-bend

 

And so, after returning from the metro, I slipped on my Northwest Territory boots for a walk at River Bend Nature Center. While I hiked along snow-packed trails, others skied. Powered by our own feet, movement shifted from fast to slow. And that suited me after a weekend in the busy metro.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling