Hello, Iowa

Outside my car window impeccable rows of infant sprouts fly by, splashes of emerald decorating soil canvases. Fragile beans peek from beneath muddy quilts as baby cornstalks reach for the cobalt sky, their mouths stretched open in lazy yawns.

Good morning, little ones. I’ve missed you.

I’ve lived in Iowa all my life but something about this spring has struck a long-dormant chord in me. Perhaps it’s the new vegetable garden in our backyard or the unusually warm May weather. Maybe it’s that for the first time in years I’m not plagued with morning sickness or newborn exhaustion or postpartum anxiety. Whatever the reason, this place I’ve always called home is suddenly demanding I wake up and it’s like I’m seeing it all for the first time.

Iowa has its fair share of stereotypes and there was a time I bought into many of them. “I’m leaving this place,” I told my parents a few weeks shy of high school graduation, “and I’m never coming back.” (Because when you’re eighteen, the only way to overcome embarrassment is to run from it, right?) I was ignorant then, full of elaborate dreams and fancy ambitions I thought I could only fulfill elsewhere, but I soon learned that all goals worth reaching are inextricably tied to my roots and this spring, as the verdant crops make their welcome debut, that truth has never shined brighter.

A landscape of deep greens and rich browns – of warmth and fertility – have cushioned me for a lifetime and yet only now am I beginning to recognize its brilliance. Has my nose been broken all these years or has the air always smelled like fresh water and cut grass, the space between me and the rest of the world like gratitude and hard work?

Summer – a sizzling quilt, melting away trivialities. Autumn – burnt oranges and dark reds and sun-kissed yellows dancing to the beat of anticipation. Winter – the season of diamonds, of crystals glistening from otherwise naked tree limbs because it turns out even death can be beautiful. Spring – life returning one silent tulip at a time.

These visitors have shown up at my door every day for the past twenty-eight years, their rhythmic knocks muffled by my gravely mistaken definition of life, and after decades of overlooking their coveted company I’m finally allowing them in.

Iowa Corn

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