Roughly an hour north of Chester, Iowa is Rochester, Minnesota. A little under 40 minutes south of Rochester is the small town of Spring Valley, Minnesota, which is then surrounded on all sides by corn and soybean growing country. It was to this farming country that some good friends moved in mid-June, and so it was to this farming country that Becky and I traveled in order to be of help in their move. While it was my first time visiting Minnesota, it certainly wasn’t my first time visiting farming country. So while the newness of the place was present, so too was the feeling of knowing this way of life, and ultimately this place.
Farming country is a land of dichotomy. While it’s a land that is vital to our survival, it’s also a land that we often have little interest in seeing, let alone visiting. It’s a place where time seems to simultaneously move slowly or be frozen entirely to those from the outside, and can’t move quickly enough for the farmers watching their calendars. The land is flat and repetitive, yet the cycles that can bring forth life and growth are anything but. Across the landscape there are monuments to the good years: barns, silos, towers, and machinery. And yet, so often these monuments bear the marks of the not-so-good years: chipping paint, encroaching rust, weakening decay, or complete collapse. For those who make their living off of the land, their life is a balancing act between unwavering hope and perpetual worry; between having nowhere to be and not enough time to get everything done. It is a place stuck somewhere in the middle of what was, what is, and what could be.
It’s a beautiful place.