Backlight maple trees against a blue sky, a sky so blue, it could be called caerulean. The branches hang down as an umbrella, covering the emerald grass, the budding flowers and the armies of insects, doing their jobs. A wisp of gray cloud to the left, possibly threatening rain but only drops a drop or two. A welcome rain that would lower the levels of humidity. The humidity smells here. It smells like summer and vapor and thick, lush trees. It smells of lemonade and lazy days hiding under the shade of a tree. It smells of freshly cut grass and a people who are so eager to do yard work after being cooped up inside all winter. A smell that will be forever engrained in my heart.
The sunset that can come from nowhere and surprise you when you go to open the windows or take out the trash. And you look up, instead of down, and suddenly your breath is taken and you are in a state of wonderment. Because a sky full of pink and purple and blue should never be taken for granted. Because a sky painted so obviously, just for you, that you must admire the majesty of the painter. And you wish you could remember this very sunset because, well, a picture would never do it justice.
The avid runners and bicyclists who are out the second it hits 30 degrees and even 20 degrees. The appreciation of nature and all that it has to offer. The men fishing the river or any hole they can find. The children shouting and playing across the street. The hikers, canoers and the boaters. They embrace this placed called Iowa because they understand the importance of taking advantage of every second that it isn't cold because when that cold comes, it's here to stay.
The tree I noticed the other day, while on a bike ride with Hailey, that was like sitting under a fragrant flower shop. But these flowers were intertwined within each other and climbing up and down the tree trunk without any direction or pattern. They were beaded and pink and purple and the vines were green. They reached upward into a tree blossoming with life, pale pink flowers completely covering a tree that had been covered in snow just a month ago. Those flowers came through. The tree produced its fruit in spite of the winter. In spite of a cold so cold that limbs were snapped from trees. Yet these trees survive. These Iowan trees are born and bred and know what to expect, just like the Iowans I have come to know and love.
I asked my friend, Abrah, "Why are people so happy here? We just eneded eight months of winter! I am still wanting to hide in a cave." And she said, "Because the people who can't handle it move away. Only positive people are left" And that is one of the beautiful things about Iowa. Grandma Barb has lived here her whole life and she pushes through each winter. She hates every minute of it and longs for her garden, but she manages to laugh through it all. And the adorable mom down the street with the two boys who walks them to school every day even in negative 30 because she wants them to get some exercise. And the sweet grocery store clerks who carry the groceries out to the cars in rain, sleet or heat. And I see that Iowa has its own brand of people. They are survivors. They aren't complainers. They are push it through, don't give up, work hard and play hard. They are truly amazing. And simple. And welcoming and lovely. They are very different from my Las Vegas people and I love them both! I love both worlds.