Recently my wife and I flew from Rochester, New York to Omaha to attend the wedding of our oldest grandson in Seward, Nebraska. On a warm and breezy early October afternoon, Dave and Carrie exchanged vows and committed their lives to each other in a recently cut hay field while family and friends witnessed the sacred event seated on golden bales of hay. It was a simple ceremony, yet elegant because it was nestled in the arms of nature. While not a church, it was a church. It projected the beauty of nature, a creation of the living God.
Family members, normally spread across the country, spent the weekend huddled in sometimes small, sometimes larger groups, catching up on the latest happenings and enjoying the rare treat of togetherness. Following the wedding, the trip offered a rare opportunity to spend a week with our eldest son and his family in Iowa.
I am somehow emotionally connected to the Midwest. My paternal roots are in Iowa.
There, my Great Grandfather peddled boots and shoes while it was still a Territory, crisscrossing the open plains in a wagon. Sometimes, in my mind’s eye, I can see him doing so.
My son lives along a rural highway several miles from town. Early one morning I headed outdoors to find the flavor of this part of the country. As I looked down the road, first one direction, then the other, I observed a land vastly different from my Western New York experience. There were no hills. The countryside more correctly rolled like a wave before it crests on Lake Ontario. Acres and acres of land covered by row upon row of corn or soybeans spread out as far as the eye could see. A pattern of roads, straight narrow strips of concrete or gravel, looked like the empty grid of a tic-tac-toe game.
The autumn morning was so quiet one could hear the tires of an oncoming truck beating on the 12 by 12 sections of concrete pavement for a half mile before the driver reached me. And, when he had passed out of sight, until another caught my attention, the only sound was that of the birds conversing with each other on telephone wires overhead.
A light breeze carried the smell of a nearby farm where a large herd of cattle had gathered for their morning ration of hay and grain. City dwellers might find the aroma offensive, but, for me, it brought back memories of growing up in rural Western New York where small farms and grazing cattle were a way of life.
As I stood there, I realized what a grand and beautiful country we call home. There are so many different landscapes – the Coastal Plains, the old Appalachian Chain of mountains, the magnificent Rocky’s and the heartland in-between. From the Northern Boundary Waters and the Great Lakes to the shores of The Gulf and the Rio Grande, from the metropolitan East to the beaches of the Pacific, we live in a beautiful country. And beyond, Alaska to the north and Hawaii to the west – each is grand its own spectacular way.
Too many times we are really aware only of the locale in which we live. The chance to travel (like our family wedding) provides one an opportunity to appreciate so much more. But, when we take our trip, unless we open our eyes to the beauty of that land – our land – it just might be a missed opportunity.
Happy next trip.