A day of Midwestern culture

One day last week, I started out the day with a friend and dusty chaff in a soybean field. It was a lovely way to celebrate my favorite season: the dry plains that stretch into the horizon, the banter of voices over the radios, the roar of machinery, the swirling haze of dust every time the combine approaches. There is something about growing up on a farm that makes the joy of the countryside stick in your blood.

But in the afternoon, I drove to the city to shop. Within minutes, I had exchanged the hazy corn and bean fields for the asphalt and concrete of the glaring city. And I loved it, as I always do. Right down to the traffic (as long as I’m not in a hurry).

After inhaling the exotic spices in the Asian Market, I had fun browsing up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart with a short list and a lot of time. Of course, I did this in a Wal-Mart that is sometimes referred to as “ghetto-mart.” But it’s my favorite Wal-Mart because one can escape the SUV, soccer-mom rush that usually accompanies Wal-Mart trips closer to home.

After crossing a few things off of my list, I paid and exited the store. The cart man met me in the doorway, gave me a bright look, and said cheerily, “Goodbye, Saint! Have a nice day. Praise the Lord!” And I smiled all of the way out to my car.

In fact, my heart was still warm even after 30 minutes of wandering around on obscure backstreets that inevitably turned into dead ends. (I had left the directions to my friend’s orchestra concert on my nightstand.) I told myself not to despair of ever hearing her play the violin and stopped at Arby’s for directions (and roast beef and curly fries, if you must know). I chatted with the helpful cashier and then tried not to spill the oozing Arby’s sauce on my shirt as I embarked on the remainder of my journey.

The free concert was lovely, but there was a catch: it was in an assisted living facility and I was the only person in the audience under 50 (or maybe 70). But I didn’t care because I had a great view. Plus, I didn’t feel out of place tapping my feet or humming my way along through “The Sound of Music”, “Chicago”, and “Phantom of the Opera.”

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