Ah, my beloved state, Iowa.
This post is prompted by my outside work as of late. Last, last weekend we had 70 degree weather, just gorgeous. Three days later we had a snowstorm that dumped 7-14 inches of snow on us! And it was only 20-30 something degrees out! Laaaame. Now we’re back in the 60-70s which is lovely. And the snow is mostly gone. So this week I took it upon myself to resume clearing leaves and sticks from our front yard.
As I raked up dead grass and leaves, I realized that my shoes were holding me back! I kicked off my Keens and wiggled my toes in the grass. The setting sun warmed my shoulders and I had the thought, Ah, it’s finally feeling like Spring. I paused my hard work for a moment to listen to the birds in the trees. Bluejays, robins, sparrows, mourning doves, and a red-tailed hawk. I tried call-and-response with the hawk; I think maybe it responded. We’ll pretend it did. Cool story about the hawks – Mom and Dad said we never really had hawks in the woods around our house until I came back from living on the reservation. It’s cool because I was named on the reservation and part of my name is Hawk. I’ll write more about that year soon.
Well actually it was during that year that I realized how much I love Iowa. I had always felt so ready to get out of the state. Even in college it felt too conservative. Too rural. Too homogenous. But moving to North Dakota for a year was a shock. I hadn’t believed that there were states more conservative than Iowa. States I’d very strongly dislike more than Iowa. Turns out, yup. There are. Since that year in ND, I’ve also lived in Indiana and Wisconsin. And yet I keep returning to Iowa. I’ve kept my Iowa license and plates and voting registration. Somehow I just can’t let go of my statehood. Sure I can always be an Iowan at heart, but the outward expression of it is important to me (and maybe subconsciously I knew I’d keep returning).
This state has some great things going for it. Beautiful landscapes – hills and rivers near Des Moines (deh-MOYN, by the way, for those of you who can’t pronounce it…), bluffs near Decorah and the Mississippi River, flat plains in North Iowa, such variety! Good, hardworking people live here. People that truly mean well and will go out of their way to help. Diverse cultures in the cities, small as they are compared to Chicago, LA, or New York City. I believe Cedar Rapids has the first/oldest mosque in the US. Marriage equality. Smoke-free public places. A progressive oasis in the middle of the country.
So back to the grass. Driving around the past two weeks I’ve been amazed at how green the area around my hometown is. Maybe I’ve been living in cities the past few years where the lawns just don’t get so green. The color, more green than Crayola can manage, just stuns me. Thank goodness for growing up in the country. Now if only we didn’t live SE of a local cattle man…