While attending a marriage seminar on communication, Tom and his wife Peg listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He asked Tom, "Can you describe your wife's favorite flower?" Tom leaned over, touched his wife's arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn't it?" The rest of the story is not pleasant. —Author unknown

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The genius of place

I’ve often been tempted to enter the marvelous Gardening Gone Wild’s Picture This photo Contest but have either been too intimidated, too busy, or just plain lazy. But the current subject is close to my heart: “Genius Loci—The Special Atmosphere of a Place.”

A sense of place—with family, respect, tolerance, and love—is essential to my well being.

Growing up on a northeast Iowa farm, I was imprinted with 180-degree skies—stunning orange-red sunsets, a quilt of stars against midnight, brilliant lightning cracking wide a purple dome—and the delicate cadence and subtle contours of rolling hills. The special scent of summer rain. The luminous black earth. Scent of fresh-mown hay. Delicate flavor of newly dug potatoes. The particular feel of soil drying my hands. The fuzz of zinnia stems. My thumbnails green from shelling peas. The swish of corn stalks taller than my head as I walked between rows.

The phrase “down to earth” carries special meaning to me. It is my love of the land, a gratitude. This is my place.

I have thrilled to the sights of tulip fields and windmills in Holland, ferns and glaciers in New Zealand, the majestic fjords of Norway. I have photographed poppies with the Parthenon, sunflowers in Monet’s garden, and hibiscus with the pyramids in Mexico.

But I am still moved by the subtle beauty of my home state.

And so, even though I may have images more exotic or technically more proficient, I am nominating this image, taken last summer as I pedaled my bicycle across Iowa with 20,000 other people (see www.ragbrai.com).

Iowa: Beautiful Land.

1 comment to The genius of place

  • roodoc

    Stunning photo and exceptional writing! I had forgotten the experience of green thumbnails from shelling peas but we used to shell peas by the bucketful. Love this post!

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