My morning drive to work was filled with some of the most beautiful images I will see in all the year. The sky was filled with puffy, angry dark rain clouds, but they were very broken up and the sun shone brightly through them, illuminating all of the spring flowers. The light had such a tender, triumphant quality, truly appropriate for spring. It lit up the daffodils, magnolias, carpets of blue scilla and the bright yellow forsythia. And everywhere the green grass! I was lost in my head driving along and experiencing this. I have always felt that my prairie roots go down to the bottom of my soul with unbreakable bonds to this place. But recently I have been pondering about my future and northern Illinois.
I recently returned from a week long back country camping and hiking trip to Death Valley. I spent the week (not) sleeping, but laying uncomfortably on rocks with my tent whacking me in the head all night long from the very strong winds. I was caught high up in a canyon one day in a terrifying dust storm. I climbed narrow trails and hiked all day long, and I climbed four difficult rock climbs one day. I was very busy all day long from the time I got up until I went to bed, but nothing hurt on me all week, except for my blisters on the bottoms of my feet. I suffer from allergies, and maybe even asthma, but even in that impressive dust storm I did not cough one time. But since I have returned, I have been coughing non-stop, and all of my troublesome arthritis pains have returned in full force.
As I said, I dearly love this place, and never have been able to imagine any place else as home to me. My family all moved out to southern California and they love it, but I never wanted to live there. It wasn’t my beloved midwest home with my spring and fall warblers passing through the pine trees outside my bedroom windows, and the lush green summers. However, since my return I am beginning to wonder about quality of life. I have not felt good since my return, and for the first time I am beginning to understand the pull of the warm, dry climates. I am beginning to be able to imagine moving away from here if it meant being free from the suffering of coughing continuously all night long, and all of the aches and pains stabbing me. I have no idea where I would go and how it would become home to me. It has always fascinated me to drive through different regions and to think of all the people who live there and call that place home. I have always wondered how anyone arbitrarily picks a place to move to and decides that they will now call that place home. Yes, I love it here, but this place is trying to kill me!