Strange as it may seem, I believe that we may have to be removed from something familiar before we truly appreciate it.
I know there are scenes in Cherokee County, which I often took for granted that I am now missing very much. That is why I want to alert you who are still there to truly appreciate them. For example when you reach the intersection of Hwy. 143 and C-38 south of Marcus, take time to stop and look off to the northeast.
That is truly a breathtaking vista of rolling prairie, stretching to the horizon. Enjoy it often. Another such panorama was recently opened up north of Marcus when an unused windbreak stretching from the Pine Grove farm site to Hwy. C-16 was removed.
Stop about half of a mile west of that corner look off, again to the northeast, and be prepared to catch your breath. The various Prairie Preserves across the county afford equally lovely reminders of what that tall grass prairie looked like when our forefathers first arrived.
More rare, are the wooded areas clustered around Cherokee County waterways. In addition to those maintained by the county, you don't want to miss others such as the area around the Oakdale Church.
It is lovely the year around. All of the trees have been removed from several other such places, but there are still a few reminders. One example is in the mile just west of the Trinity Church corner southwest of Marcus.
A lone tree stands there right in the middle of the section. Tiling and other man-made processes have re-routed what was once a lively little creek, near which the area's earliest settlers homesteaded.
They fashioned a dug-out in the creek bank for their first shelter, then built a sod house and eventually erected a conventional house, all in the midst of a protective stand of cottonwood trees. The lone tree still standing was preserved to mark that historic spot.
In the grand scheme of things we aren't all that far from our forefathers' invasion of the vast American prairies. Here in Eastern Iowa where I am now living, the history goes back a bit farther, and there are many more wooded areas.
In the few excursions I have taken out in open country, I have discovered that it has its own beauty, but it differs from that of our Western Iowa landscape in various subtle ways.
This transition of mine has led me to appreciate what I left behind and to urge all of you to take notice of the beauty, familiar though it may be, with which you are surrounded.
Blessings on All of You as You Observe Christ's Birth and May He Continue to Bless You Through All of the Year