Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Boots and blooms April 27, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:29 PM
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IF YOU ARE AN ELEMENTARY school student of the 1960s, like me, you can relate to this post. If you are not, pretend that you are and imagine sitting at your desk, mimeographed math worksheet and box of eight thick Crayola crayons at your fingertips.

Your teacher, we’ll call her Mrs. Olson, instructs you to circle the one item among the pictures that does not belong.

You pull a nubby green crayon from the box of colors because green is your favorite. You’re pretty sure you can use green because Mrs. Olson has not instructed you otherwise. You wish to be obedient.

You study the pictures and crook your elbow around your paper. David is seated across the aisle and you have caught him several times peeking at your math worksheets. Mrs. Olson does not like cheaters. Neither do you.

You study the five images.


Blooms, purple


Blooms, pink

Blooms, blue

Without hesitation, you circle the second picture of the single purple bloom.

The next day Mrs. Olson returns your paper with an “S+” and a smiley face scrawled beside your name.

DEAR READERS, would you have circled the single bloom? I expect most of you would have drawn a circle around the boots. But, remember, this is a math worksheet. We are learning numbers. All of the pictures, with the exception of the purple bloom, show multiples.

I assure you, this marks a rare occasion when I will teach you a math lesson, for I struggled mightily with numbers and still do.

THESE EDITED PHOTOS were taken at Donahue’s Greenhouse in Faribault. I am still wondering how those boots fit in among all those flowers at Donahue’s.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling