(Tom Jirik wrote columns in several newspapers in Iowa from the late 1980’s to the mid 1990’s. This column originally appeared in the The Boone Today)
During the deepest time of Iowa winters, dirty clouds skid across dark skies, days are short and stinging snow is borne on a wind so cold no coat can keep it at bay. During these dreary times, our friends in warmer climates question our sanity for living in such an icy, blustery place as Iowa.
During the deepest time of Iowa’s simmers, the heat beats down and neither breeze nor tiny cloud brings respite from the sun’s endless stare. But it is not the heat, but the humidity that drags us down like a leaden weight, making every step and every movement sweaty agony. During these blistering times, our friends in heatless, humidless climates question our sanity for living for in such a torrid, horrid place as Iowa.
But there are times, like the last few weeks, when life in Iowa rewards patience and endurance.
During these times, the evening sun casts a golden glow across the hills and plains. Tall corn marches to the horizon while soybeans rows become bushy miles of perfectly tended hedges. There is no need for air conditioners or fans because the air is sweet and cool and fresh as childhood lemonade. The dust from country roads drifts listlessly across pastures filled with contented cows resting in verdant beds of greenest grass.
Young voices fill the evening air at the last baseball games of summer are played on dusty small-town diamonds carved from farm fields. Tiny glowing dots betray the dance of fireflies in the gently waving corn beyond the outfield. Garden vines bend under the weight of their produce. And morning dew dresses lawns in glittering jewels.
There are no tractors roaring. Planting if finished and harvest is yet to come. There is o hurry. The grass, the corn, the soybeans and children know no clock but the sun. These are days of tire swings and back porches, of slow pitch softball and backyard barbecues.
August’s sun will sear us yet. And each dusk brings us closer to winter’s short and bitter days. But, for now, we savor and enjoy these mild days of August in Iowa. And as the evening breeze washes over us, carrying a hint of October’s frost, we ponder the question of movie and baseball fame: ” Is this heaven?”
And we know the answer. But sometimes it’s awfully hard to tell the difference.