This decade, Iowa technically became more "urban" than "rural." Though the farms have grown fewer and larger, the state at its heart is grange country. And they hardly anymore are the fabled pictures of a red barn, running windmill and a dozen different breeds of animals so often shown in children's books.
There is one constant: Since the first day Adam was condemned to toil the red earth, life on a farm has consisted of extremes. Summers grow so hot that a man's body seems to melt as working while winter numbs exposed skin within seconds. And a few, brief weeks between those seasons often are most vital to success: The soil must be neither too moist nor too dry in spring, and the crop can be neither undergrown nor too ripe in autumn. To the urban passerby who sees a field of ripe corn swaying in the breeze or the farmer's wife lugging a basket of strawberries into the house for hulling, the troubles of those who till the land are well masked.
Ironically, as we migrate to our concrete form of Eden a new extreme is created: modern man's disconnection from the Earth and correspondingly the fount of ideas from which we struggle to make choices today.
(originally published May 23, 2004)