My roots are in the Midwest. There are so many things I enjoy about that part of the country, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to spend quality time with the people there that I love. A brief summary of my trip:
1. Overalls worn un-ironically at an airport where luggage arrives in under 10 minutes and no one is checking the curb parking.
2. Cicadas. Due to some odd hatching cycles that I can only pretend to understand, there were more cicadas than normal. These made up the nighttime soundtrack of my youth, listening to the cicadas when everything else had gotten quiet and they were humming outside your window. But these? These were shouting. I mean, it was like a white noise machine on a mega speaker system that you had to raise you voice to speak over.
3. Humidity. So. Much. Humidity. I swear it somehow increased by running distance by 30%. But on my runs, I smile because I can count on every person I pass to make eye contact, nod, and wave.4. Thunderstorms. A good, heavy rain with booming thunder. We just don’t get those types of storms where we live (or really rain, at all, given this drought). And a thunderstorm when the only place you need to be is wrapped up in a blanket on the couch is the best. Just the best. Pouring rain is less fun when you’re driving home on the highway, as mom and I got to experience, but lightning on the wide, open plain is spectacular.
5. Eating steak and corn in a state known for top-notch steak and corn.
6. A visit to the family farm that has been in our family since 1878. And learning that the farmhouse I’ve been to at least 100 times in my life has a basement. Then wondering how I never knew that before.
Norm and Faye, my mom’s cousins and so some sort of cousin to me (I’ve never given enough attention to figuring out second cousin or once removed and generally just go by a measure of closeness), were really more like another aunt and uncle. They were pure love and made you feel it every time you saw them. So the farm, to me, is that: love. With a lot of family, our history, and my most happy memories wrapped up in it.
It’s the place our family celebrates Christmas, it’s where I learned to ride a horse, it’s where I learned about alfalfa bears and developed a life-long fear of them, it’s where the three-wheeler lived and the tractor that pulled us in the Camp Creek Threshers 4th of July Parade made a home, it’s where my grandma grew up, and it’s where Dan proposed to me. And, despite all of my travel, it remains one of my absolute favorite places in this world.
It was hard to see the house being cleaned out after both Faye’s and Norm’s recent passings (the most recent family members to live at the farm — and by most recent I mean, they’ve lived there longer than I’ve been alive), but it was also affirming to browse through the old photos and memoirs of those who have lived on the farm. And to see it moving steadily into a new era where new memories will be created.
7. Cousins, one-year-old birthday parties, four-month olds, family dinners, and quality time with friends.
8. A weekend trip to Minneapolis was such a special visit with two of my dear college friends on the end of this beautiful time in the Midwest. We had such a good time exploring Minnesota on Emily’s last weekend living in Minneapolis. We ate delicious Cuba scrambles, Cuban toast with guava jam, and arepas with yucca fries — and, accidentally at first, purposively later, added guava flavors whenever possible. We visited several of the lakes in the city, including an outdoor concert on the lake on a warm summer night played by the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. We celebrated Emily’s dad on Father’s Day with BBQ picnic with friends the night before, church in the morning, and a trip to Emily’s apartment pool. We helped Emily pack, and I learned the value of long sleeve t-shirts for the packing process. (Natalie and I also both learned that packing is fun when you’re not doing it for yourself! And I was reminded of Natalie’s super-human ability to visualize and arrange things to maximize the space of a box, of a car trunk, or a suitcase…)
Through a short tour with our most excellent tour guide in Emily, we came to understand the different personalities of Minneapolis, a tall, shiny, new city, and St. Paul, a short, laid-back, older city.
We also went shopping, and by that I mean Emily and Natalie totally whipped my 2005 wardrobe into shape with kindness, honesty, and patience. And I hope they’ll be happy to hear that I have learned that there must be a limit to my “thriftiness” and that replacing everything, literally everything, in your wardrobe from workout clothes to pajamas to casual clothes to work clothes at once is not a good idea. Little by little is far better. Lesson learned. I promise.
We also mini-hiked around Minnehaha Park to see this powerful waterfall, beautiful streams, and the largest turtle (tortoise?) I’ve ever seen that didn’t live in a zoo. It was a rejuvenating weekend with these two stellar ladies. Thank you for the laughs, the honest talks, and the love you show in how we each continue to grow.