Day Off

Unlike dairy farmers, videojournalists get to take days off. 

Paul Willis, who's farm we've stayed at 5 nights thus far, took us to the Chit Chat in Thornton for dinner. For those of you not familiar with Iowa- "dinner" is lunch. Let me say that again, the meal that is eaten at about noon, that most people call lunch... out here it's called "dinner".

The Chit Chat is one of the last businesses open in Thornton, and most of the people eating there were over 70. The menu, which was a special one for valentine's day, had a cursive note from the owners stapled on top of it.  It started out talking about the warm weather, and then talked about how the Thornton school was being torn down and salvaged for parts. This unexpected turn, made it an awkward and sad letter for valentine's, but an honest one. You could see a discomfort in Paul's eyes when he talked about the school being torn down- a school where he graduated from in the early 60s.

From there we walked out to a prairie on the Dream Farm, acres and acres of grassland that Paul had helped create. It's a refreshing contrast from the monotonous corn and soy that fills up 93% of the land in Iowa. Seeing the grasslands, and the ponds, with the different yellows of the winter grasses, was a reminder of how quickly nature recovers. Paul said that a couple species of fish had developed in the ponds, and that a few willows had taken root nearby. No humans had introduced fish, or planted willows, they just developed on their own. The wind was strong, and it was still a bit cold, so we made our next stop- to the home of Jon & Mary Larsen.

John makes beautiful stained glass windows of all different designs, and Mary has boundless energy, enthusiasm and generosity. We were the lucky recipients of a loaf of her wondrous banana bread. Both John and Mary always have many projects- Mary has started using an electric grinder to make cornmeal, using Paul's corn, and a sifter from a Des Moines antique store. They are both doers, and builders, and makers, and upon our arrival they had just removed the chimney from their home, brick by brick. It had been causing drafts. John showed us an ornamental fireplace he'd built in the last few months, and we all looked a book written by Mary's grandfather, who had gained great fame in the region for growing potatoes and carrots in the first half of the 20th century. 

After thank yous and goodbyes, we drove into Mason City where Paul ran some errands, purchasing a drill and picking up essentials like coffee and shaving cream. He dropped us back at the Dream Farm and we shared some Cara Cara Oranges before saying goodbyes as the sun went down. 

We're getting prepared for the week ahead, and editing the short video from Saturday's shoot with James- which should be done tomorrow night. 

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published this page in Ruminations 2012-07-18 11:20:38 -0400