Monday, June 16, 2008

Iowa Pride

I have had a number of people ask me over the last few years if I've ever thought of moving someplace where the weather is more stable. The answer is: of course I've thought about it... but I know deep down I never would. I know it sounds crazy with how my body reacts to changing temperatures and storm fronts, but the truth of the matter is that the quality of my life isn't only measured in relation to pain. I couldn't imagine living somewhere without my friends, or at a greater distance from my family, but I also couldn't imagine leaving the quality of Iowa neighbors.

As I've watched the towns in my region get hammered by tornadoes and devastating floods, I can't help but be grateful I live around these people. When I've watched disasters hit the country at different times, there are almost always the news shots of looters, vandals and violence. It just hasn't happened here. In the last week, when there has been 24/7 news coverage keeping the victims informed about where to find help and the status of their homes, I have heard only one news story of vandalism. The local newscaster informed us that the convenience store he stops at every day for a snack on the way to work was broken into after the mandatory evacuation was enforced.

The flood damage to the store occurred only because someone had broken the door to get in, which allowed the water to enter the store. And this is what I love about small town Iowa... the two anchors spent nearly five minutes chastising the anonymous vandal. They talked about how this affected the store owner as well as the morale of the people in the town who are fighting to save businesses instead of damaging them. They reminded the viewers that we are Iowans, and we are better than behavior like this. They suggested that we are people who assist our neighbors, not people who undermine others for our own gain.

Now, I've never lived in a big city... but the few times I've visited and watched newscasts, robbery and murder and vandalism are reported in succession without any shock or astonishment. But here, when situations are dire, the news is informative and encouraging... with a bit of a homily on morals thrown in for good measure.

So on Saturday evening, when a headache started settling in and my pain increased, I knew another storm was coming. And even though it gets discouraging to go through this weather roller coaster of pain, the last thing on my mind was where I could go to escape it. My thoughts were about how much rain might be in store for us and how much of that would be traveling south to the towns already devastated by the flood. Thankfully it wasn't enough to add too much trouble, and while it will be awhile before people can get into their homes, the waters are at least beginning to recede and the forecasts are holding out hope for dry days ahead.

Actually, we could have three days in a row without rain and temperatures in the 70's this week. And if you want to know where to find me, I'll be sitting on my patio with a book, appreciating every moment.
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