WHY IOWA continues as I hear from more artists and writers who share what it means to live, work, and play in Iowa. If you have thoughts or images on this subject, email me here. Not an Iowan? What is it about your state that sets it apart? Why (insert your state here)? Look for a photo gallery coming soon, and knitters, don't forget to read this and submit your entry to win Michelle Edwards's A Knitter's Home Companion.
I was introduced to author and artist Claudia McGehee over a bowl of soup at Devotay in Iowa City on the coldest, snowiest of Iowa days. The author and illustrator of A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet and Where Do Birds Live? among other wonderful books and works of art celebrating the natural world, Claudia turned our conversation to dreams of spring and the transformation that would occur in Iowa. A picnic was planned for May, in a cemetery that is home to a tall grass prairie; the picnic where I would meet Tugs Button. Serendipity! Enjoy Claudia's thoughts on Iowa and serendipity.
I made several moves as a young adult before my husband and I finally planted in Iowa nearly 20 years ago. Introducing myself to every new home, I followed the old adage “To know the land is to know the people”. Maybe this stems from my former occupation of archaeologist, where geography literally does inform on past populations and individuals. But there’s also a spiritual, romantic component to looking at the land and wondering about those who’ve been here before me.
Just before we moved out to Iowa from Washington state, my dad reminded me that a few of my ancestors had lived in Iowa in the 1800’s. A few continued on to Oregon and Washington (my great-grandparents met on a westward bound wagon train on the Oregon Trail!), but some stayed on in Little Sioux, Iowa (close to the Nebraska border). A couple summers ago, we found these pioneering family members in a little cemetery nestled at the bottom on the Loess Hills. It was strange to think that I wasn’t the first in my clan to stand in the tallgrass prairies that I had grown to love so. I realized that for me, to know this land, Iowa, is to also know my family. And to also know myself.