There is something I want to tell you here, and maybe you already think this message is true and obvious, but our recent experience moving out to Duluth from Washington DC makes me think it is important enough to say again.
            Gerri and I just completed our grueling 4-day drive across country with our cat. We drove from our old home, starting right out at the front door, to our new home in Duluth, Minnesota. Conner, the cat, did well, after stressing out the first day. He had the freedom of the car, and explored it thoroughly, whether we were in motion, or stopped at a service plaza. He’s a good cat. Overall, however, the travel was wearying, but we accomplished it without major incident.
            Our route took us across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa on the toll roads of the turnpike. We followed the long-haul trucker sub-culture, appreciating their driving skills on the road, and enjoying the rest stops that catered to their long-distance needs. That part of the trip was a fascinating education.
            We passed by several wind farms, with the blades of the turbines turning slowly, gracefully; saw others being built (as middle America sees the value of doing it,) saw collections of solar panels on many homes. It’s evidence of the disdain many people have for government or corporate solutions to our energy crisis.
            And there’s the point of this message. I want to report to you on what we mainly saw. Our travel went mainly through rural areas; past farms and forest. It was plump full of the beautiful green of new crops, fields of grass with grazing cattle. In between them were lakes and streams and lush forests, all along the route. This country of ours, at least this major heartland part, is green and beautiful.
            As Gerri pointed out, our view of all this was a small, brief window, far from comprehensive. We saw many signs of how economically hard-hit people really were in the region; shuttered stores and derelict lots, ill-served by our corporate/government leaders. Yet we were always, everywhere, treated well, with a strong sense of common decency. This essay is no patriotic flag-waving, people. But I want you to know this – what we saw – is America, and it’s still a beautiful place to live.
June 2013