At the end of summer, Snapchat had a feed where users from Iowa could post videos to share with the rest of the world.
My husband and I took our dog on a walk through the Dickinson County Conservation Board's Judd Wildlife Area south of Milford, and we took a short video of us walking through the prairie. Really, walking through the prairie is the quintessential vision of Iowa and Iowa life.
When you walk into Judd, you stand on top of a ridge and get a 180-degree vision of rolling hills filled with prairie grass. In the spring, it's green, sometimes dusted with a fine snow. In the summer, the green is accented with colorful flower blossoms and a bright blue sky. In the fall, the grasses dry and change to hues of amber, beige and mahogany.
When I went to Judd Wildlife Area this fall to take some photos, the grasses were at the dried stage. They were still without the wind blowing, but sometimes those on the edge of the mowed path jumped as grasshoppers were frightened into cover by my movement.
This area is one of those not-often-noticed gems. Pull off to the parking lot along a gravel road, and you enter a different world.
These places always remind me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder stories that I read growing up. I picture pioneers like her walking through mile after mile of tall prairie grasses and flowers. I see their bare feet traipsing through the dirt. I see the little girls' bonnets peaking out amidst the flora.
I understand why so many people wanted to settle Iowa. Yes, the cropland is wonderful. However, it's so much more than that. Iowa has this silent beauty. It doesn't demand attention like the Rocky Mountains in Colorado or the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Iowa's beauty flows quietly by. But when you stop at a place like Judd Wildlife Area to take a second and appreciate the prairie, the beauty fills you up. If you just stop talking and take a second to listen and soak in the vision, it's something that enters your soul and keeps you coming back for me.
It's peace. It's history. It's home.