What Is This?

Yes, of course it’s corn. It covers Iowa from Missouri to Minnesota.

Which is where we ended up last night, at a rest stop in the southwest corner of Minnesota. In all our driving in Iowa, I think 99% of the land was farms, and 99% of the farms looked like this, curving precisely at the corners to get every foot of a field packed with plants.

The most exciting things that happened yesterday were: watching a tiny fawn making frantically tiny bounds across the interstate freeway right in front of us, and a male ringnecked pheasant trying to commit suicide into Janet’s side. The fawn must have known how slow Janet is, and the pheasant was foiled by us chugging along just a hair too fast for its crazy flapping. Slow-motion wildlife/car encounters. Otherwise crossing the state in peace, I speculated on the culture of Iowa.

First, the farmers are really small businessmen (as large as their farms can be), and not farmers in the real sense. They don’t grow food. They grow, essentially, ethanol, high fructose corn syrup, and Crisco. So Iowa is rows of square counties filled with smaller squares of businesses. And small business owners intend to stay independent.

But the spirit of independence in Iowa is a very staid spirit. This, I think, is the Germanic immigrant influence. Conventional, cautious, and with a strong dash of communal feeling–also very Nordic. I’m improvising here, but I see citizens quietly serious about running their own livelihoods, and  safeguarding this way of life by being independent. Less “Give me liberty or give me death,” and more “We don’t do things that way here.” Guns yes, but never brandished.

So the overly-officious lady in the library was indeed wrong to ask me about a mask. Because I found out that the week before, Iowa’s governor had signed legislation (effective immediately) that prevents mask mandates in kindergarten through 12th grade schools, and stops cities and counties from mandating masks in businesses. Perhaps the new face-shield factory in Bloomfield had the woman over-excited, creating in her a businesslike conflict of interest.

Driving through Des Moines I saw exactly this view, which is courtesy of a DeviantArt site. The gold leaf and mini-domes are not the Anglo-style copy of St. Paul’s in London that we all think of as a capitol building. I found it referred to as 19th century modified Renaissance style. Hmm. I think Renaissance means “Not British.” I keep wanting to make Iowa all about Germans, though to be fair I did see a very Dutch area.

What I did not see was any sign whatsoever of any Latino population, or even person. I did not see a single person not of northern European descent, in any job or anywhere. I am not sure if I’ve ever experienced that while traveling. And certainly never in a highly agricultural area.

Corn to the eyeballs notwithstanding, Iowa was the first state that I noticed always had a ‘no ethanol’ gasoline choice at the pumps. I took advantage of it, because Janet prefers old school fuel.



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