This summer I saw 11 states. I drove through 3 time zones of mountains, beaches, cities, desert, and farmland. The bulk of my summer I filled my weekends with drives to the coast and hikes in the Sequoias and Kings Canyon, and I spent my weekdays reporting in the city. Every place I visited, I thought, “This is the best place to be.”
When I pulled out of my driveway May 24th, I had respect for my roots, but to be honest, I was ready to get out and leave Iowa behind. When I pulled back into my driveway August 1st, there was no other place I wanted to be. I drove up the lane with corn to my right and beans on my left, and saw our big white farm house on the hill peeking out from the tall stalks. In that moment, with confidence, I thought, “No, this is the best. It doesn’t get better than this.”
It’s the little things you miss the most – the little things you take for granted. It’s the low rumble of a gravel road, the soft breath of my sleeping dog, the big red Chevy sitting in front of the shop, the silly red maple tree that doesn’t fit in with the others on the front lawn, the smell of fresh air and – yes – manure. It’s the feeling of serenity walking a mile back to the small pond, the view from my front window, the sound of Mom’s voice yelling, “Shut the door. You’ll let the flies in!” It’s the wolf river apples falling from behind the house, the touch of soft
green grass on your bare feet, the crackle of the campfire and the sound of cracking open a cool beer. It’s the taste of Mom’s apple pie and Dad’s overdone hamburgers and steaks. It’s big trucks and tractors, getting caught behind a combine on the highway, a friendly one-finger wave driving up the road, and not being able to leave town without running in to someone you know.
Iowa is at its best in the sweet summertime. Cool beers, hot days, and warm smiles. My favorite memories come from this place. You’ll never take Iowa roots away from this girl. Forever I’ll remember 4-H and the county fair, country music and gravel roads, good friends and great family. The sun may not shine so bright all year round here, but when it does we soak it up floating tubes down the river and mowin’ the lawn in nothin’ but a bikini. Until the sun cools down you’ll find me in my front yard on a big blanket in my swimsuit with a book.
Over time, you learn to gauge the length of summer by the height of the corn, and nothing’s more upsetting than seeing the stalks at their peak. Summer’s about over, and I missed all the time from when the green leaves popped out of the ground to just about until they start turning brown. I wouldn’t trade my time in California for anything, but boy did I miss a great summer of green fields and blue skies. Iowa might not be where I want to spend the rest of my life, but I will never ever appreciate anything more than my home.
P.S. As I write this, I’m watching a deer run across my front yard…how fitting. Comment with your favorite Iowa memories! We want to hear!