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

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.

These shaped my sense of place.

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