This is an entirely self-indulgent post. John Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” has been on repeat, leaving me yearning for the Midwest. (Play it below.)
Home is where the heart is. I grew up in western Iowa, which surely is the root of my frugal ways. The cost of living is low, a breakfast special is cheap, and fashion isn’t a priority to most. Wide expanses give way to simple pleasures, like a sunset spanning the horizon leading to a blanket of bright stars. While time progresses elsewhere, Iowa and its Midwest counterparts seem to move in slow motion. Small town Iowa is blissfully ignorant of today’s date.
I visit home three times a year. Splitting apple pie a la mode at Cracker Barrel with my mother has become somewhat of a tradition. Summer means sherbet of the day at Christy Creme, the Saturday morning farmer’s market on the brick streets of Omaha’s Old Market, and people-watching at the Panera Bread in the disappearing Mall of the Bluffs.
Romantic reminders of the state in which I was raised include the soft hum of locusts during an August night, country roads lined with barbed wire fences and the smell of fresh grass and scented flowers in the clean, clear air.
Iowa is speckled with rusted old swing sets, weathered movie theaters and remnants of businesses from times past. In its landscape, too, are main streets lined with fast food chains, bowling alleys and thrift shops.
The above shots were taken in a variety of western Iowa spots in the last couple of years: in and outside Missouri Valley, Iowa; several points along I-80 heading east toward Des Moines; county roads heading west towards Council Bluffs; in my hometown of Council Bluffs; and lastly, down a lonely alley in Omaha, Nebraska.