I’m a Midwestern gal. I was born and raised in northern Indiana, and though I’ve traveled overseas to different continents, the Midwest has captured and captivated my heart forever. When people denigrate Indiana as having little more to offer the country than corn and cows, my heart sinks inside. It’s because I know there’s more to the land I love, and it’s rooted in my childhood memories of visiting state parks in the summer.
There’s something whimsical about spending time in the forests, at least the ones that are comprised of more than evergreen trees. Deciduous trees, I decided, are the heart and hearth of why I love the Midwest. The varieties of trees offer lush green foliage to the forest sky, where the air is clean, crisp, and invites one to breathe deeply and deliberately.
Indiana also has vast segments of wide open spaces, and when I drive through them, I feel as unbridled as the birds in the sky. It’s the connection of earth and sky that makes my heart soar to the same heights, and I am filled with awe as I gaze upward into the evening sky to watch the palette of colors paint the horizon with red and orange hues.
This is the land I love. While I’ve visited other lands and appreciate the beauty of the desert, ocean, prairie, and mountains, I’ll always call Indiana home.
As a child, some of my fondest memories are related to the family vacations and long summer spent right here in Indiana. (Where else can you find fireflies and butterflies, lush greenery, abundant lakes, rivers, and streams?) Summertime welcomed hot, humid, sunny days and temperate nights with starry skies and gentle breezes. I loved the buzzing activity that hummed around me during the shortest season we knew – bees and hummingbirds, butterflies and beetles, all sorts of critters and flowers that enlivened my senses while I would sit outside with my books and journals for endless hours, just listening to their songs and breathing in their scents.
Because the Midwest is my home, it is also a component of my identity. I grew up in a fairly wholesome community (of course exposed to less-than-wholesome realities), where my imagination could run unbridled alongside the vast country fields and crops. The Midwest represents all that is unpretentious, simple, and organic. We don’t concern ourselves with complexities in thought and lifestyle, and I adopted this underpinning of our culture early and easily.
World travel may have expanded my horizons, but being grounded in the Midwest has defined what I love and believe – essentially who I am. I am proud to be a Hoosier and will always call myself a Midwest gal.
Text Copyright 2016 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2014 “Sunset” by wadegeorge88 on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.