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I recently interviewed my sister for an oral history project. She evoked images of the place we grew up next to our German grandparents. She proclaimed, “Those two small houses side by side, they were so close to the street!”
The houses (one purchased from the Sears and Roebuck catalog) were close to the street for a reason – it afforded us a large backyard of fertile soil – once a flood plain of the Cedar River.
I have been attempting to reconcile my place in the world. As it applies to my heritage, racial equality or lack thereof, and social justice. Of course, also realizing how food fits into the equation.
This was a personal post for me to write and may not be for the faint-hearted.
Growing up in Iowa, I remember shared slaloms and slides in a wintery universe. Some of my earliest memories are of riding a cold, solemn and wide toboggan down a small incline—Jefferson Hill. A broken wrist.
The land around me was dotted with farms where families lived, raised children and cherished the land. Picture voluptuous mounds routed out by slow rivers meandering from the drift-less places. Wisconsin’s dales—the Mississippi River—The Cedar—The Missouri were around us. These confluences of rivers once defined the tribes of mid-North America.
I was one of the wandering ones who left. When I was young, I often wished to be a gypsy or trapeze artist. I wanted to dance with fire, stay warm and get away from the territory I knew as Iowa.
The place where I was conceived.
Iowa is actually a Sioux word, meaning “the sleepy people.”
The Dakota Sioux they were one of several tribes that could be found throughout Iowa. The others included the Ioway, the Illini, the Otoe, and the Missouria.