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Thoughts on being thankful

In the early 1970s when I was a graduate student at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, we made a few trips back to Western Nebraska after classes were over in the spring. With warm weather and no air conditioner, the car windows usually were open to let in the cool fresh air. Driving across Iowa on Interstate 80 that air often included the wafting odor of hogs. We commented to each other that we would not want to live here. Ironically, just a few years later we moved from Florida to Iowa!

We arrived in Iowa with our rental truck on what must have been one of the coldest August days on record, or so it seemed. Although the weather soon turned warm again for a normal autumn, that cold day was an ominous sign. On Thanksgiving Eve we drove to Norfolk, Neb., to spend the weekend with Linda’s parents. We had about every kind of weather imaginable on the drive except a tornado—pea soup-thick fog, rain, snow, lightning, thunder—making for an unforgettably scary trip. Again, the weather turned fairly decent until after Christmas, when the temperature dropped below zero. I grew up in the Midwest and thought I knew cold weather. In Western Nebraska, though, cold days in January were always interspersed with a few warm days. During that January, temperatures here ranged between 10 above and 10 below zero or colder. No mid-January thaw. And, of course, incessant snow! I shoveled through the snow piled in front of our drive by the snowplow to get out in the morning, and shoveled again to get back in in the evening. With no garage, on the coldest nights I went out at midnight and again at three a.m. to start the car, warming the engine to make sure it would start in the morning.

About now you are probably asking, “This is a message of thankfulness?” Before we were married we talked about how we wanted to someday live in Colorado, if not in the mountains, at least within their sight and easy reach. Graduate school took us to Kentucky, with winding byways through scenic rolling hills, the Appalachian foothills only an hour away, and long spring and fall seasons. My first job after graduate school was in Florida, with white sandy beaches, fresh seafood and year-round warm weather.

When an opportunity at Iowa State University presented itself, I had misgivings about pursuing it because I liked my job and the amenities of Florida life. Luckily, Linda’s family ties were strong enough to persuade me to apply for and accept the opportunity. Beginning with first seeing the position announcement, a series of events, whether happening completely by chance or guided by providence, led us to settle here in Nevada. And overall, the years here have been good. Nevadans are friendly and we made some good friends. It was a great place to raise our two children, Angela and Aaron. They received a strong educational foundation in the Nevada school system. Growing up, they enjoyed community activities such as the parades, and now our grandchildren look forward to them as well. Some readers may remember Linda’s business, Old Glory Antiques and Gifts. She still receives nice comments from former customers. Now retired, I appreciate even more all the area has to offer, especially Nevada’s new library and the trail system that help keep me mentally and physically fit.

Relatively flat Central Iowa with corn-and-beans scenery is not as exciting as lofty snow-covered mountains, colorful country byways, or rolling waves on sandy beaches. On the other hand, we have little danger from forest fires, flash floods and hurricanes. I am thankful that events led us here, and though I still may complain about the cold, the cold is overpowered by all the warmth!

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