Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music ...
Rich started writing for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin as music critic for the symphony and opera seasons. Originally from Granite City, IL, he graduated from Simpson College with a degree in music education. In 1984 he received his MA in Music Education from Truman State. Now retired, Rich enjoyed reading, writing music and short essays. He is the director of Kirksville Community Chorus.
MCKNOTES IN THE MIDWEST
Last weekend I drove to Iowa to the town where I first taught school. I had been invited to attend and “Old Settlers” celebration, and I had not been back there for a very long time. Most of the people I had not seen for more than thirty-five years. Let me back up a bit, though. I embarked on my trip and took a slightly different route than I usually take to the middle of Iowa.
I was struck by the beauty of the landscape that flanked the highways. In the summertime we think everything is either green or brown. This early in July, green was the predominant color, but there are dozens of shades of green that grace the countryside. Fields of corn that had clearly met the “Knee high by the fourth of July” rule of thumb lent encouragement for what is predicted to be a banner year for corn production in the Midwest. Soybeans offer a slightly different shade of green and more obviously a different look to fields that continue to grow until the plants reach maturity.
The highways are lined with the delicate blue of common chicory, lavender puffs of clover, orange “ditch lilies” and the elegant tatting provided by Queen Anne’s lace. A variety of yellow perennials lend yet another hue to the vista worthy of an artist’s brush. Even volunteer wheat spilled in previous years during transport provides the amber waves of grain that are so notably mentioned in the musical history of our nation.
The general view of the land goes from flat prairie-like plots to rolling hills that overlap each other and provide layers of interest that equal any other landscape available in this vast country. I try to look at everything as if it’s the first time I have seen it. I’ve never been any place that isn’t worthy of mention for the natural beauty. I have enjoyed the opportunity to appreciate the variety offered by nature. Astounding mountains, mighty oceans, placid lakes, rippling streams, barren deserts punctuated by cacti that hold balletic poses and so many other variations of natural beauty have thrilled so many people in this and every other country.
We tend to overlook the beauty that is so easily accessible to us, but the Midwest has so much to offer. That doesn’t in any way lessen the majesty of the first time one lays eyes on mountains. Sometimes we just forget to look for the beauty that is around us. For many years, I lived in Hawaii. There, the beauty of the land, sea and air were so present every day that it was almost like being hit in the face with nature. The constant presence of beautiful blossoms and greenery were almost overwhelming. Appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounded me was impossible to ignore. However, I have never been any place in the world that I didn’t find beautiful. Sometimes beauty is not so obvious. One has to notice the palate of colors Mother Nature chooses, the contrasting shapes of flora and land formations and the way that light dapples surroundings that might otherwise seem dull. Isn’t it worth taking notice of the beauty provided for us?