I Live in a Beautiful Place

A View of the Loess Hills from Fox Ridge Run at Hitchcock N.C.
If someone would have told me fifteen years ago that Nebraska was a beautiful place, I probably would have scoffed. Not outwardly mind you, as I was a bit more reserved back then, but inwardly for sure. The fact of the matter is, is that I just never paid any attention to the landscape.

I grew up in Northwest Iowa, not far from Nebraska, but I didn't have a great experience growing up. I hated my life there and wanted nothing more than to run as far away as I could, away from my problems and awkward years. I never saw any beauty there.

I only made it 25 miles away - where I remained for the next five years - but I kept moving and eventually, after a couple of more states, landed in Nebraska. When I arrived I was tired, weary, and generally not in a good place. I was a young, poor, single mom of a three-year-old son in the midst of an ugly custody battle. My relationship with my Dad was strained, and I felt lost and very alone.

I came to Nebraska because my best friend in the whole world was living in the Omaha metro area. She knew how life was going for me and she offered a refuge and a fresh start by saying, "Come to Omaha. You can live with me and I can watch your son while you go to work." She was running a daycare out of her home at the time, so watching my son wasn't an unusual offer. I took her up on that offer, and I've been here ever since.

Since moving here I've created a life for myself, marrying my husband and having another child (Nature Girl, or NG!). When NG was a toddler I started thinking about the good times I had hiking with my Dad when I was young. It started a regular habit that our little family continues to this day, something that is very evident by reading this blog.

It was rediscovering my love of hiking and nature that led me to the rolling hills, sweeping plains, lush grasslands, and wildflower-filled prairies of my adopted home. Between these and the Loess Hills - or as I like to call them: the Iowa Mountains - next door, I have a plethora of places to immerse myself in nature. I've even realized, over a handful of trips back "home", that the place I grew up is incredibly beautiful as well. It's also covered in hills, and on a clear, summer day you can view cottony clouds hanging in the crisp, blue sky as they keep a watchful eye over the green fields.

I recently took the above picture from the top of my beloved Iowa Mountains, on a typical light hike at Hitchcock Nature Center. As NG and I walked, I stopped at that spot to admire the view. And what a view it was. I stood there for a few minutes and gazed out across a sea of green that stretches for miles, while the sun shone down warmly on my face.

I live, without a doubt, in a beautiful place.


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