Nothing Like It

I live in Ankeny, Iowa. It’s a suburb, not a farm town. My house is in a neighborhood, not the country. My street is mostly beige 2-story houses with 3-car garages. There aren’t any barns here, but we do have McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks…

It’s a nice place, but could be anyplace.

But a mile from my front porch, manicured lawns and cul-de-sac streets give way to rich black dirt, wide-open spaces and beautiful cornfields that stretch to the horizon. This landscape continues north for more than a hundred miles, until Iowa becomes Minnesota. It spreads east and west, to the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers that flow along each side of the state. South, past Des Moines, the fields resume again though this direction the land is not flat, but rolling, and the views include more pasture and timber.

This definitely isn’t just anyplace. It’s my place. It’s where my heart is, where my memories live, where my soul breathes. This land and these fields are, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places on earth.

I’ve traveled around – 44 states; 4 Canadian provinces; some 18 countries.  My feet have touched 4 continents.

I’ve kicked sand on beaches in Hawaii, California, Florida, Mexico, Barbados, the Mediterranean…and waded along rocky coastlines in the Pacific Northwest and New England. I’ve skied atop Rocky Mountains, heard cowbells clang in the Alps, and dozed in the warm sunshine on the White Cliffs of Dover. I’ve watched whales in the San Juan Islands, walked through sugar cane fields in Spain, driven through cotton fields in Mississippi,  salmon fished in Washington, hiked in the desert, hitchhiked in Wales, and sailed across the strait of Gibraltar.

I’ve watched fog roll off the Smokey Mountains, and felt cool breezes blow in from Lake Superior. I once drove across Nebraska on two-lane roads (just for the heck of it), and have stood on the banks of the Columbia River to see what Lewis and Clark saw. I’ve explored forts in Bermuda, snorkeled in Aruba, camped in the Badlands, tasted Belgian Waffles in Belgium, and wandered streets in Paris, Santa Fe, and Mackinaw Island. I’ve jogged in Central Park, chugged beer in Munich, and huddled inside the Lincoln Memorial in the rain.

And I’ve spent days at sea, on cruise ships, with nothing but blue horizons in every direction.

But nothing — NOTHING — is more amazingly beautiful to me than a sea of gold tassels gently waving across the horizon of an Iowa cornfield in the summertime.  There really is nothing else like it…anywhere.

Some people make fun of it. Many who grow up here can’t wait to leave.  Most who live here now don’t see it.  And those who don’t know it call it “fly over” country. None of that matters to me.  I just like it here. This land speaks to me. I am very blessed to live in the midst of such an incredible place.

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