By Brenda Black
Show me vivid green pastures dotted with black cattle. Show me white pines and giant oaks stately guarding Ozark hills. Show me rivers glistening and rambling. Show me flooded rice fields dancing on flat bottom land. From west to east, the scenery changes in the Show Me state, offering diversity that is broad and beautiful, one side to the other.
I took the ten-hour round trip tour a couple of weekends ago from Clinton to Sikeston, and home again. The hubs and I criss-crossed 12 counties, marveling at their differences. Though Mark Twain hailed from the opposite corner of the state, his namesake forest across the south central region offered scenic tranquility for part of the journey. The deep, dark, seemingly endless rows of trees surely would have inspired the story teller with as many back wood mysteries as the Mighty Mo river provided a backdrop for the folklore he made famous. And that's the beauty of this great state. Her cultural differences, various industry and natural characteristics run wide and deep, worthy of notice.
I often ponder on such road trips about the outcome of life had I lived just a few hours one way or another from where I call home. How much would the opportunities have changed; how would my world look differently? Would I still have gone to college or met the man I married? We spot pretty homesteads along the route and ask one another from time to time, "How would you like to live there?" We dream for a bit and venture the scenario, then always come up with the same answer.
"No, I think I'll stay where I am."
There's no place like home. Though I must admit, I am tempted to transplant a few of those gorgeous tall evergreens and borrow a cool, clear stream for personal landscaping. A sprawling ranch with board fences and pristine paddocks, absent of ragweed, looks inviting. I'd like the deep, rich soil for our pastures and garden and some of those mountainous slopes for winter sledding. But, home is home and it always feels good to come back where the roots run deep and the surroundings are familiar.
Sometimes it takes a jaunt just a few hours away to rekindle an appreciation for the place where God planted us. It's nice to see the diversity; fun to enjoy some new scenery. But in the end, when the forest faded away and the sunset came into view, west and ahead, it felt right; it felt good. With some unseen, emotional magnetic force, home keeps pulling us back to the life and the folks we love and the history we've created.
From one side to the other, our state is spectacular and it's people memorable. Still, from one side to the other, home is preferable, and I'm glad each time I get there.