Yesterday, June 27, marked an anniversary: the date we moved away from town and out into the country. We've been here a year now, right here, in fact. I took this shot yesterday at dawn after walking out back of the barn. I'd like to say every morning out here was just as great, but you wouldn't buy it, and you shouldn't. It was nice of the Creator to think of us, to paint all that wafting beauty into the sky so movingly.
It's not all wine and roses out here, of course. It's windier than it is in town, and out here on the prairie "windier" can only mean gustier. We try to walk everyday, and--winter or summer--it's often into the face of a wind. North winds can rip your face off midwinter, but south winds, south winds in summer, can too, except the ratchet is hot. An old friend, now gone, told me years ago that northwest Iowa generally allows us ten beautiful days. I thought that remark altogether too Calvinistic when she said it, but over the years I've come to believe it's not far off the mark. (By the way, just outside the patio door, the morning is looking lovely; but 30-mph winds are forcast.)
Right here along the river, there are more insects than in town, especially in this banner year of moisture. I've probably got a dozen welts from a dozen dead mosquitoes (I think they die when they sting, a truth I cling to). All I've got to do is step out back and hoards come up out of the grass thinking just one word--Thanksgiving.
It's dusty along this gravel road. When trucks come by--as they do, all the time--the gritty stuff rises in clouds, passes through screens like a terrorists to end up all over the place and into everything. Fingerprints exist all over this room because this gritty sheen covers absolutely everything. When we first moved in, I thought it put my computer in danger, seeping in the way it inevitably does. Countertops get ugly fast.
But some time ago, we decided to stay out here. Our old rental place has been sweet--there's a goldfinch hanging on a thistle seed sock right outside my window right now, and a squirrel is having breakfast on the seed corn I put on the step. He's inches away from the window. We've got all kinds of critters out here--coons and deer and groundhogs, rabbits, and two pair of Baltimore orioles. Sometimes we have goldfinch, orioles, and an indigo bunting on the feeders at the very same time, so much outlandish color you'd think we live in a cartoon.
So we're staying. Last night we lugged chairs over to the new place and had an evening's cup of decaf on the deck of our new house. If anyone would have said, a year ago, that we were going to build a house along the Floyd River, just outside of Alton, Iowa, we would have laughed, I'm sure. But last night we sat on the new deck of an unfinished new house that's ready for the insulators, sat there and looked out over endless prairie north and west, and told ourselves we were going to like this, told ourselves that building a house was a lunatic idea for a pair of old farts, but a dang good one.
Here's our new place, yesterday, in that heavenly dawn.
There was another reason to go over there last night--June 27 is the anniversary of our marriage, our 41st. That's a long time. Maybe we should have gone to Hawaii or Vegas or San Anton. We didn't. And the truth of the matter is, somewhat embarrassingly, we didn't do a whole lot worth crowing about.
But when you're building a house out here in the country, Vegas would have to have charms it doesn't have to top an evening in a couple of folding chairs on a new deck, decaf or not. Maybe we should have had wine.
Okay, the pictures show this world in an immensely beautiful light--I know that. Not long ago, a flood of 100-year proportions threatened our backyard and turned the whole neighborhood into sloppy-thick muck.
But in the last decade or so I've decided that it's just plain good therapy to look for beauty--because it's there--in the squirrel outside my window or the way those darling mourning doves can honestly best those marauding grackles. It's in morning light laying golden shafts through the pines. It's an azure sky and an emerald earth. And it's there in spades in a forty-some years of marriage.
For a lot of reasons, yesterday, June 27, was a good day, a lot of good reasons for thanks.