My Oldest friend is tying the bow on her doctoral dissertation about voluntary migration and she asked me to read bits of the final work. She uses an archetypical metaphor: “the stranger comes to town.” It’s beautiful work and I can’t wait until it’s a book and she is the expert traveling the world and chatting with Charlie Rose in his TV studio living room. Anyhow, all this migration research and expertise made me stop and think about how I’ve migrated from a big city to a Little Big Town that is the most delightful mix of art and agriculture. I find myself worried about all the rain we’ve had and am hopeful the wheat, silage, and hay were brought in before it could sit in water and rot. I love the smell of the hay after haying. I’ve loved witnessing the corn getting higher; calves joining the herd that lives across the street from the shopping center closest to home. I love it so much I wish it were my home town and I wish I had found it when my kids were small; it seems to be a great place to have a family. My love for this place evokes a deep emotional response because it is “home”. But some days I feel like I am the stranger who came to town.
The people are different.. Sure there are IT wanks, healthcare professionals, lawyers, and the like but there are also a fair number of people who work in agriculture and agri-business. I’ve met some of those types in my dating exploits. Some I actually had things in common with and others I didn’t. I am geniunely insatiably curious about people and their lives so I delight in meeting people with foreign existences. Plus their jobs are always 100% more interesting than mine. Hell everyone’s job is more interesting than my paid gig.
My dates with these two men (not at the same time, that would be weird even for me) must have resembled that old show about kids saying the darnedest things where the little kids ask rapid-fire questions. Some of the questions are stupid and some of them are profound.
I promise most of my questions were stupid. Some of them purposefully because my sense of humor is on the dry side and I think I’m hilarious. I did make one of them laugh and he earned Short-list designation. Plus he was nice enough to show me where he lives. In the middle of the middle of nowhere. It’s the most beautiful middle of nowhere I’ve seen in a long time.
It was bright with that rarified gold light of sun reflecting off yellow short grass prairie. As we walked out to the car, the only sound was the wind and birdsong. I looked out over the pasture, completely vacant of any readily seen detail. I really wanted to walk the road we drove and cut back to the west about a half-mile to the pond. There was a stand of rare wildflowers interspersed with black-eyed Susans. I wanted to lay on the roadside and shoot pictures of the flowers. I wanted to stop and ask about the giant horses at a horse farm. I wanted to wade in the pond, looking for frogs.
As we pulled on the highway, I was struck by the beauty of the empty grasslands and remembered the Solace of Open Spaces and this was the type of place she once experienced as a migrant. My friend spoke my thoughts:
“A lot of people don’t see the beauty of this place.”
I assured him I did. I silently added how much I would like to see this beautiful foreign place again.
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