I awoke this morning to falling snow. Living in the Midwest we often complain about our winters, but there aren’t many things more enchanting for me than looking out the window as the sun rises over the land and the large flakes, catching and reflecting the first golden rays, fall silently upon the ground.
As a writer, I can live anywhere. Most of my family has moved away to Florida, North Carolina, California ... but there is something that keeps me here. Sometimes I think inertia keeps me from escaping, but it’s not. I can drive away anytime. The truth is I love it … all of it.
I’m sure by now it is apparent. I am a proud Midwestern boy. I was born in Kankakee, Illinois, which explains my lack of skill on a surfboard and my love of corn on the cob and the Chicago Cubs. I measure distance in minutes and not miles and wonder why people on the coasts do not. My Dairy Queen closes during the winter and it only makes me crave it more when it reopens.
We seem to look people in the eye, smile and say hello more than people in other regions. In the Midwest, people are divided up into two groups.
A.) Those who have hit a deer with their car, and
B.) Those who will.
And even if you don’t drive a pick-up truck, you have a close friend or relative who does.
We hear much in the news about living in a “Post-Christian” nation, yet my church is busting at the seams and building new classrooms to handle our growing membership and Sunday School. It makes me wonder if talk of the death of faith is true or if it is someone’s agenda to make it so. I suspect the latter. Maybe we just didn’t get the memo in the Midwest?
My son, Toby Moore, is an actor and filmmaker. He lives in Los Angeles. He is passionate about his craft and enjoys life in California, but he returns home as often as he can and always hates to leave. About 10 years ago, during a visit to Los Angeles, he invited us to dinner with his theatrical agent. During dinner, she talked about Toby’s kindness and humility. She complimented us by saying after meeting his parents, she understood. It would have been better for her to stop there, but she went on to say she was surprised. I asked her why she was surprised, and she said, “Because you are from the FOZ.”
I am sure I looked confused, not knowing where the “FOZ” was, so I asked what she meant.
“You know … the FOZ … the “Fly Over Zone — the uneducated and uncultured area between the coasts.”
A Midwesterner would never say something like that to a dinner guest. It is neither polite, nor accurate. As such, I didn’t respond. I really didn’t know what to say that would not start an argument, so I remained silent. I am from the Midwest.
I feel privileged to have been born and raised in the middle of the country. There is something indescribably special about the heartland. I think you must live here to appreciate the subtly nuances. We currently live in Illinois, but Arlene is from Iowa. Although neighbors only separated by the mighty Mississippi River, there are subtle differences in lifestyle, yet both remain uniquely Midwestern.
A close friend once remarked, “There is nothing more appealing than the smell of an Iowa barn.”
I laughed at the time and pointed out that that unique aroma was cow manure.
She said, “I prefer to think of it as processed hay,” and smiled.
Even though I laughed, I do agree.
Sitting by the fire this morning, after watching the falling snow, gives me an internal warmth and gratefulness to live and work in the heartland. I always thought that the reference to the heartland was because we are in the center of the nation, but I now realize its more than geographical, it’s a reference to the heart of our people.
There are advantages to living anywhere. Part of my work as a writer, as well as the fact that my daughter and her family and my oldest son are there, may require me to relocate to the West Coast. If so, I am sure I will enjoy life in the sun, but I am and will remain eternally grateful that I was born and raised in the Midwest. I am who and what I am because of my Midwestern roots.
May God continue to bless the Midwest.
Gary W. Moore is a syndicated columnist, speaker and author of three books including the award-winning, critically acclaimed, “Playing with the Enemy.” Follow Gary on Twitter @GaryWMoore721 and at www.garywmoore.com