Growing up on a farm in rural Washington County, life was easy! My world was small! My cousins, double firsts, as our moms were sisters and our dads were brothers, were our next door neighbors. We lived, played and worked together. Problems were often solved to our mutual satisfaction and solutions were found in our Sunday afternoon bike rides especially after the paving of “Patterson’s Freeway” so we could ride for miles and miles on paved roads and quite literally, entertain ourselves and be trusted to disappear for hours and yet return on time.
Then for many – changes – the changes that come after graduation. College, jobs, college, jobs, additions to the family. Still living the life; life was easy.
I remember my first encounter with Vietnamese students in the Ottumwa Heights dorm. I often wondered what they were cooking. Even when I respectfully inquired, I was never quite sure of the answer. The nuns believed in them and provided a home and supports to meet their needs. I also wondered what they thought of us. My first encounter with a different culture (Seriously, I thought cultures were more like farmers and city slickers!).
Life continued to be easy. More jobs, college, and changes in the family. High school music had always been a source of travel and open doors to new experiences. College continued to broaden those experiences. For me, NMSU Marching Band. For my sister, the flag corps in the Hawkeye Marching Band and bowl trip after bowl trip. . . including the grandaddy of all bowls — the Rose Bowl.
Time passed and work, jobs, college continued (there were six of us siblings after all) and SOME of us dearly LOVE learning! Travel to my sister’s hotels in various parts of the US. Vicarious travel via her postcards to foreign countries and life was still easy. Growing and learning. Seeing new sights. Visiting new places yet firmly grounded in the MIDWEST!
Family – ever expanding. We laughed the year we had borscht for Christmas dinner – courtesy of the same traveling sister with a major/minor? in Russian. And then before we knew it, we added to the homogeneity of our family . . . a HIndu brother-in-law (so yes, a vegetarian to this agrarian pork-producing family) and a Korean sister-in-law. The world was now a part of our family. Midwestern family meets the world. What a shift! We have literally moved beyond fruit and veggie pizza which we dearly love to decent-tasting vegetarian meals that can serve the next gen – those two nephews who are 6’3″ and 6’7′ who have never eaten meat. . . Still pondering how that happened! Our easy family life in Iowa, is better, more tolerant, more accepting, and even views the world differently because our family has expanded outside the farm, the county, and even Iowa.