Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Salt of the Earth

      When I moved away from the heartland at age 18 I had the attitude that everything in my life was boring. My school, the people in it, the town, the mall, the stupid corn fields for miles and miles and miles, all boring.  I had lived in the same town from birth to age eighteen and was so incredibly tired of it all. I didn't lead a totally sheltered life. I had traveled to many surrounding states on family vacations and dance competitions. After visiting larger cities like Chicago and even Honolulu, I would return home craving the noise and high activity levels that I had experienced. I wanted to feel like one little person in a million. I despised the small town atmosphere and "knowing" people in every business in town.

wildlife watching on the river

     Since moving back to my hometown it's been very strange how many things I can find beauty in now. Because of road construction I've been forced to take the scenic route home for the past month or so. Towards the final portion of my drive the road takes a fancy wide twist first to the left and then to the right. As I drive the S curve, usually reserved for car commercials, I can't help but smile as I anticipate what I'll spot next. There is a perfect little glen on the side of the road. It has rows of trees that sit on a bright green dip in the earth with a small stream at the bottom. Some days I approach the curve and come upon five or six wild turkeys. They are huge!  It's so funny to see them just meandering along.

Ho hum. We are turkeys. We like to walk and gobble. 
      Other days I see a few horses eating peacefully in the small field. It really is picturesque (my cell phone photos are not paying it justice). I've never been a "nature person" in the least. I guess I just have a newfound appreciation for my surroundings. Behind all those rows of corn I'm finding the beauty that my teenage angst wasn't able to discover.

     In California, when I was 20, and about to board the bus to tour with my performing arts group, I clearly remember my Australian dance director giving us a warning. She informed us that we would be traveling to many cities in the Midwest where the people were the "salt of the Earth." She explained that they would be able to see through any false-fronts that we might try to hide behind. I had no idea what she was talking about at the time. But now, seven years later, I get it. I totally, completely, one-hundred percent get it. It means that people here are humble and unpretentious. Most are not overly concerned with their physical appearance, which I now see translates into a certain degree of freedom. The people here are not trying to impress anyone. The most down-to-Earth people I met in California where the families in the wine valley near Temecula where I worked as a nanny. But, even those people had a certain edge to them. A hint of Stepford Wife-ism. It seems like those families were actively trying to live the American dream. Here it seems that people are just doing it. I'm not even sure that most of them realize how blessed they are.

my little blessing

      Tonight I took a long walk through my old neighborhood. I saw parents playing basketball in sweatpants with their middle-schoolers. I saw a little girl in a bikini riding her bike barefoot in the sprinkling rain. I saw people congregating in their driveways chatting with their neighbors. Salt of the Earth. I get it.

1 comment:

Crystal said...

Carly, this is beautiful.