Iowa Writes

SAMUEL STEWART
A View of Home


It has been in my family for nearly a century. My grandfather was born there, and now both my grandmother and great-aunt live there. It is a part of the Loess Hills of Iowa, which were created from the eolian dust that the glaciers left behind. It is a place of both majesty and fear. It will be my parent's home, and, one day, my home. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Midwest. 

On this ridge where my ancestors lived, you can view the Missouri River, see across the paper-flat lands of Nebraska and South Dakota, and with a good telescope, one might see the Rocky Mountains. It was this way when Louis and Clark made their expedition to the Pacific. Perhaps the Sioux Indians used it as a lookout point. It has been this way since the Ice Age, when the glaciers made their trip down towards the south, crushing anything that got in their way, and created the Great Plains. The dust from the crushed rocks scattered to the four winds, and settled, creating these majestic hills. And, as the land is too steep to develop, mankind will not be able to destroy it.

It has been in my family for nearly a century. My grandfather was born there, and now both my grandmother and great-aunt live there. It is a part of the Loess Hills of Iowa, which were created from the eolian dust that the glaciers left behind. It is a place of both majesty and fear. It will be my parent's home, and, one day, my home. It is one of the most beautiful places in the Midwest. 

On this ridge where my ancestors lived, you can view the Missouri River, see across the paper-flat lands of Nebraska and South Dakota, and with a good telescope, one might see the Rocky Mountains. It was this way when Louis and Clark made their expedition to the Pacific. Perhaps the Sioux Indians used it as a lookout point. It has been this way since the Ice Age, when the glaciers made their trip down towards the south, crushing anything that got in their way, and created the Great Plains. The dust from the crushed rocks scattered to the four winds, and settled, creating these majestic hills. And, as the land is too steep to develop, mankind will not be able to destroy it. 

Every hour, a bell tolls, ringing throughout the hills. It originates from a Catholic monastery, where the cloistered nuns ring the bell to recognize the passing of the hours. Though time passes for humans, it does not pass for the hills. Every blade of grass in the pasture is verdant, reminiscent of the past, when nature ruled the land. The pee-wee's call is carried by the summer breeze, and wrens furiously scold those foolish enough to enter into their domains. When my mother was still a child, there were chicken barns, with roofs that stretched almost to the ground. She used to lie on the red, sun-warmed roof. Those buildings are gone now, torn down shortly after I was born. Though some things might not last, the sun, the hills and the good memories do.

But on some hot, sticky, summer days the forces of nature arise; the sky gradually turns from blue to grey, then to black. The clouds begin to swirl as the wind picks up. Rain deluges the once-peaceful hill, and spears of lightning hit their targets on earth. A dark, jagged ring rotates, stalks, above Nebraska, threatening to descend, and destroy all that it meets. In the center of this ring, a column descends to earth. However, it is not the menacing gray of the clouds surrounding it, but a fiery, transparent orange. It is hail, illuminated by the sunset.  Golf ball-sized hail falls from the sky, seeking something to break or dent. On the edges, small offshoots of the cloud work their way towards earth. This is nature at its most powerful, its most wrathful, its worst moment. It is a moment that people record on camera, then flee from, to take refuge in some dark, deserted corner of the cellar.     
               
It has been in my family for nearly a century, and things have changed in the past decades. My grandmother installed an automatic sprinkler system, one that I used to run through on hot summer days. There are several stepping stones, made from cool grey concrete, and imprinted with the hands and feet of my relatives. The dates that they recorded in these stones have eroded to the point of illegibility. The milk box that was used to keep milk cool is now used as a doorstop. The barns are gone, and an ornamental hedge has been planted around the yard. The view is the same, but the world around it is not.

One of the most historic and majestic views in the Midwest, it represents transience and permanence, security and fear. It is the home of my ancestors, and, someday, it will be my home.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


SAMUEL STEWART

Samuel Stewart writes: "I am fourteen years old and homeschooled. My parents graduated from the University of Iowa, and my grandmother lives in Sioux City. My inspiration for this essay came from my grandmother's backyard."

This page was first displayed
on October 05, 2006

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