Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Fox trot in Faribault January 27, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:21 PM
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A MINUTE LATER, a minute earlier, and I would have missed it—the beautiful fox that stood on the snowy wooded hillside in my backyard late Saturday afternoon as my husband and I arrived home from a Walmart run.

“Fox,” I shouted to Randy, as he drove into the garage. I grabbed my camera bag from the floor, unzipped the case, pulled out my Canon DSLR and flung open the car door, all the while hoping the fox hadn’t trotted away.



I raced to the side of the garage. Any shots I took would come from that spot or the patio. Even though I wore boots, I had no intention of flailing through deep snow. I fired a few frames, then moved to the patio where I got an even better look at the unexpected wild animal moving with agility through the snowy woods.



At one point the fox stopped, turned and looked directly at me, just like my initial sighting. Given my excitement, I was uncertain whether I had managed any clear photos. I did. We’ve lived here since 1984 and had many wild animals on our property—raccoon, skunk, possum, woodchuck, deer and the usual abundance of squirrels and rabbits. But never a fox.

Now I’m left wondering whether the fox has a den on this hillside next to my home, next to Wapacuta Park in the heart of a residential neighborhood in south central Faribault.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


A non-hunter’s observations about deer hunting season in Minnesota November 9, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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Deer cluster in the woods at Riverbend Nature Center, Faribault.

Deer cluster in the woods at River Bend Nature Center, Faribault. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

YOU KNOW IT’S OPENING weekend of firearms deer hunting in Minnesota when…

  • you drive downtown Faribault before noon on Saturday and notice pick-up trucks ringing a corner bar and a dead deer in the back of one.
  • you spot a dead deer dangling from a tree while driving to church on Sunday morning.
  • you notice that the divider curtains in the Clinton Falls church (at which you are a visitor) are made of a deer print fabric. (Not that these were installed specifically because of deer hunting, but…)
  • a woman, during prayer time, asks for protection for hunters.
  • on the way to lunch at your nephew’s house, you see a hunter dressed in orange carrying a bow and arrow.
  • your brother-in-law and great nephew share about the six deer that walked through the yard after they’d returned from hunting, without a deer.
  • your nephew excuses himself from a houseful of guests to hunt for deer before the sun sets.
  • your sister-in-law retells her tale of bagging a deer, with her car, along a dark stretch of highway in central Minnesota. Her family claimed the deer and got more venison than when her husband shoots one. (The unlucky highway roaming deer suffered only broken legs, meaning no meat spoilage.)
  • the Le Center Municipal Liquor Store welcomes deer hunters with an exterior banner advertising $3 bottles of Busch Light beer during happy hour. (Do hunters drink light beer?)

WHAT CAN YOU add to this list?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


In pursuit of Bambi April 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:56 AM
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OH, FOR A TELEPHOTO lens on my camera…

Since that is not in the cards, the budget or the plan, I find myself often lamenting missed nature shots. It’s not like I can holler to Bambi, “Hey, hold still, will you, so I can take your picture! Move that way a little bit. Just one more shot.”

Nope, can’t do that.

So I shoot anyway, firing my camera in the hopes that once, maybe once, I’ll get something decent on my CF card.

So…, Wednesday evening my husband and I are checking out the rivers in Faribault. We are driving toward Teepee Tonka Park from the viaduct that crosses the Straight River and railroad tracks. And there they are. Four deer. Standing. In a yard.

I am so excited. But already the deer are fleeing, alert to the danger of our approaching van and a car driving up the hill toward them. My only thought is to photograph this quartet.

But I am frustrated because the lollygagging car is in my way. Can’t the driver see that I have a camera? Probably not.

Oh, well, I try anyway, shooting seven frames through the van’s windshield.

And although the results are not stunning or fantastic or overly-impressive, I’ve managed to capture at least one photo that is good enough to show you. And that, folks, is all I can ask for without a telephoto lens to shoot Bambi.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Those of you who live in southeastern Minnesota are probably wondering, “How did she shoot these photos on Wednesday when we didn’t have snow on the ground?” You would be correct in questioning that.  I wrote this three weeks ago and forgot about it in my post drafts. However, since we got snow overnight here in Minnesota, I thought it appropriate to publish today.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling