Have you noticed how when you’re away from a place for a while and then come back, it all looks different? I was always struck by how our kitchen on the farm always looked so small after I’d been away at college for a few months.
I had a chance to see Iowa that way when a friend visited this week. She’s a former Iowan who moved to Phoenix nearly a decade ago and now returns to Iowa in September to escape the Arizona heat. She knows Iowa and Des Moines, but after being away for a time, returning lets her – and me – see everything again for the first time.
We had a ‘Bridge Day,’ when we took in the developing Des Moines river walk, starting with the white pedestrian bridge to the north, walking south past the Brenton Skating Plaza to cross the red pedestrian bridge, then back north. We enjoyed sunset and moonrise on the High Trestle Trail Bridge. My friend did not let me forget the beauty of our green trees, a feature she sorely misses in the desert southwest.
The prairie in my yard was a very short stroll that prepared us for a longer, late afternoon walk around the Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge. The muted purple and gold plumes of the grasses were highlighted by a wealth of yellow flowers. And we spotted many buffalo, some barely visible in the tall prairie grasses.
My garden was giving us all the incredible, juicy tomatoes we could want for dinner and supper. Though we never tired of those, we did venture into local restaurants like Proof where the food is as flavorful as any meal we’d ever eaten anywhere. After dinner, we strolled the Pappajohn Sculpture Park,joined by dozens of others out enjoying an incredible Iowa evening.
I have to say I was proud to spend a week touring Des Moines and central Iowa with my friend – showing her all the new sights – some that I was seeing myself for the first time. Sometimes it takes a visitor to make me really appreciate all we have here. World class art, food, attractions. That’s Des Moines. That’s Iowa.