And although the temperature is still a steamy 85 degrees, some of the leaves have started to fall, and an auburn hue is blushing the edges of smaller trees. We love the fall in Missouri. The Midwest is unpretentious in its natural beauty, and that suits us.
Currently, I am reading (and I would go so far as to say savoring) the new novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, American Wife, and I encountered a passage that spoke to these reflections – and beautifully, the narrator is talking about Wisconsin, and in fact – an area near Milwaukee, where Leon and I started our life together, and this lends even more meaning to the words:
“Admittedly, the area possesses a dowdiness I personally have always found comforting, but to think of Wisconsin specifically or the Midwest as a whole as anything other than beautiful is to ignore the extraordinary power of the land. The lushness of the grass and trees in August, the roll of the hills, that rich smell of soil, the evening sunlight over a wheat field, or the crickets chirping at dusk on a residential street: All of it, it has always made me feel at peace. There is room to breathe, there is a realness of place. The seasons are extreme, but they pass and return, pass and return, and the world seems far steadier than it does from the vantage point of a coastal city. … the Midwest: It is quietly lovely, not preening with the need to have its attributes remarked on. It is the place I am calmest and most myself.”
To dear readers on the coasts, this passage and the emotion connected to it probably seems perfectly provincial. But sitting in my backroom office, with the window open and the late summer sounds surrounding me – it feels just right.