OK, here's the deal: I like Iowa. I'm completely unashamed to say it.
I travel a bit for work - East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, Pacific Northwest, Southwest and the South all in the last year. I am blessed to have a job that provides a constant change of scenery and all types of new people to meet - both the people I work with and all the people in-between here and there.
Invariably during my travels I'm asked, "Where are you from?" In years past I would answer, "Iowa" in an almost embarrassed, apologetic tone.
But, as I travel more, see more, and meet more folks I've changed my answer. Now, I look whoever asks straight in the eye, smile and say, "I'm from a magical place called Iowa."
This, of course, usually elicits a laugh from my questioner. Then some variation of a follow-up question, "Iowa, magical? Really?"
"Well," I'll respond, "low crime, low cost of living, low unemployment, high quality schools, no traffic, wide open spaces and neighbors you can trust. What more do you need?"
I usually get a stunned pause as they search through what few facts they may know about Iowa, then get, "What about winter?"
"Yeah, winters are tough, but it weeds out the weak." I'll respond with a laugh. After that the conversation usually quickly changes tone with my questioner really wanting to know more about Iowa.
I think it's time for many of us to be thankful for all those things that make Iowa a magical place to live.
How often do we focus on those five-mile views, in every direction? Watching the sun touch the horizon and the sky explode in Technicolor. Night skies so dark you can still see the milk in the Milky Way. Strangers who will stop and ask if you need help while you stand beside your broke down car. Neighbors who will grab a shovel and help you dig after a blizzard. The list goes on and on.
This Thanksgiving take a moment and add your own reasons to be thankful to be an Iowan. We all know there's plenty, plenty more.
And if you're traveling out of state, when folks ask where you're from, hold your head high, look them right in the eye, and tell them, "I'm from a magical place called Iowa." Whether you believe it or not, it's just the truth.