Imagine for a second the state of Iowa.

Probably you see farms. Perhaps a church. Almost definitely wide open land and big skies.

Even if you have never seen the endless fields of the American breadbasket, the region’s reputation precedes it, and by a wide margin.

My own Iowa memories center on my great-grandmother’s attic – a gable-pitched warren of rooms stuffed to the rafters with a Depression-era child’s survival instinct: boxes and boxes of monstrous sanitary pads from the 1950s, tins and tins of beans, reams and miles of toilet roll. Deep in the back, a rickety iron bed lies below a postage stamp window, the thin calico curtains stock-straight in the stillness of a hot, Iowa summer.

The heat of it is palpable, even 20 years later. A physical force pressing against my every crevice like a motionless wind. Pushing in on my mind and eyes until the journey to the end of the block or the back of the yard is too difficult to contemplate. The hot night air clamping to me like a wet towel, the heft of it surprising every single night.

The world of small town Iowa is bleached to silence in my memory, everything still and calm — cars move slowly, lawns and yards lay bare, pale and empty tarmac ends in wavy heat in every direction. Everything lying low, just waiting out the heat.

2 Responses to “Iowa”
  1. I enjoyed reading your reflections on Iowa and it reminded me of a great book I read last year: Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Stradal. It is set in Iowa and vividly brought the state to life for me.


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