Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Mayberry...

This past winter, my husband and I packed up our few possessions and left our lives in sunny Southern California for the frozen plains of  Franklin County, Iowa.

And, right now, many of you are going to suggest that I make myself an appointment for a CT scan, STAT! Because who, in their right mind, does that !!!

Well, to me, Iowa is home.

 I had spent many summers at my Grandpa's home in Sioux City, Iowa and I have fond memories of carefree summers of running free, catching fire flies at dusk, learning to play cribbage at the kitchen table while listening to the ball game on his radio. Back yards went on forever, because neighbors don't believe in fences.

Every day my Grandpa and I would walk to Peter's Park where we'd stop in to say hello to Ed, the barber. Sometimes, Grandpa would get a trim. We'd go to the Ben Franklin Store to pick up a treat or two to keep me occupied and then head to the Masonic Lodge, where Grandpa would tidy things up before the Mason's next meeting.

 Those summers were magical to me.

In later years, I'd visit family in Franklin County during the summer months. We would have fresh corn on the cob feasts while playing board games til two in the morning. My boys would would run and play with their cousins, catch frogs at the pond and go fishing. They'd catch fire flies, just as I had done as a child.We'd spend all day at the county fair and Wednesday evenings at the Farmer's Market, watch fireworks at Beed's Lake on the 4th of July.

 The mood in the small Iowa towns was always relaxed, an overall atmosphere of calm.  No one ever seemed to be in a hurry, neighbors took the time to engage in friendly conversation and genuinely cared for each other. Farmers met for coffee at the local diner every morning People smiled and greeted you when you'd walk down the street or enter a store.

To me, Iowa was my Mayberry.

We had lived in Iowa before, during the winter of '85, and had survived what locals called a "Centennial Storm". A winter so brutal it only comes along every hundred years or so. It snowed for weeks and we would experience long cold snaps, often with temperatures well below zero. Many times I recall the Wind Chill Factor being at -80 degrees. My husband vowed that as soon as he could free our truck from the massive snow bank in the alley, he was going to pack up his little family and head for warmer weather, never to return. And he did.

Twenty-eight years. I had tried for nearly twenty-eight years to convince my husband that Iowa was where we needed to be; where we needed to be raising our sons. But he wouldn't relent. I begged, pleaded, and schemed. I presented him with insane real estate deals, but he'd stand firm that we were staying in California. Iowa was not for him.

Then, in early January of 2013, I had it in my mind to try again. I  decided to start saving some money towards a down payment for a house in Iowa. I thought I'd tempt him yet again with the bait of an inexpensive country home; a simpler life.  A last ditch effort.  I didn't say a word, but had nearly met my savings goal when, one month later, after a stressful day at work, my husband sat down at my feet and asked me if I'd consider moving to Iowa. He was done with California.

Once I determined that he wasn't joking or baiting me, I showed him my stash of $20 bills and it was a mad dash from that point forward. Within six weeks we quit our high stress jobs, packed the truck, kissed the children and grandbabies goodbye and  hit the highway towards a better life.

This is OUR Mayberry now. We've rented a little house in a community with approximately 260 residents. John Deere tractors seem to outnumber the cars. My husband is more tolerant of the winter temperatures and conditions (as I write this, it is the first week of May and we have been hit, once again, with a record-breaking winter and there is a foot of snow on the ground). Many things are as I remembered; relaxed, carefree, genuine.

I've been a city mouse for far too many years. There's going to be plenty of stories to share as I become a country girl in my Mayberry. So sit back, grab a Mason jar of sweet tea, and listen to a yarn or two. <3