Friday, September 19, 2008

Fields of Gold

Having lived within an hour's radius of my hometown for my entire life, I think I can safely call myself an Illinois native and "expert". Growing up with nothing but farms filling the spaces between towns, I learned to HATE cornfields. Hated them with a passion! So dull! So flat! Why was I born to an area with no personality? No variety? Where the most exciting change in scenery was when you switched from corn to soy beans?!? WHY ME?!? (I was mostly "why me" during my teen years, when I yearned to be city savvy and cool.) I loathed being called a "flatlander" by you crazy Wisconsiners (Wisconsonians? Wisconsinites? WTF???).

As my gray hairs have multiplied (I kid you not. I am 32 with a freaking STREAK of gray hair. Damn genetics...) and the housing developments have stretched further and further into the farms of my youth, I have felt myself changing my tune...

How is it that I never noticed the simple beauty of a cornfield? The gentle rolls, the perfect lines? That I never felt the wonder at the speed with which the tiny seedlings become towering stalks?

Why is it that I never realized the peace I could feel, driving between field after field of rust and golden crops? That the solitary trees finding root near the winding creeks were not lonely but majestic and strong?

This land is beautiful. This land is rich. I am so grateful to have been raised in America's Heartland. Grateful that I know this area. Really know it.

My shoulders sag as I realize my homeland is rapidly changing. Living in an area that is growing as quickly as the Chicago suburbs impresses upon me just how much of our farmland is disappearing. I'm saddened to think that my own children, as adults, may make the same drive I made tonight, only to be met with nothing but houses and strip malls. That they won't even remember the long, winding strips of pot-holed roads. Or listening to thousands of crickets singing into the night after the fireflies have finished lighting the bean fields...

Seriously, folks. Quit moving to Illinois. You can still stalk me from afar, I promise.
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