It's The People That Make NE Iowa My New Hometown!
I counted. I've lived in 10 states, 2 countries, 4 cities population 250,000 or greater, and had 24 addresses. I was born and raised (mostly) in Rutland, Vermont and after experiencing all those places and people behind me, I choose to call Decorah, Iowa My Home. Why? It's The People.
Sure, there are less-than-savory characters everywhere a person goes, but Northeast Iowa seems to have fewer "jackwagons-per-capita" than anyplace I have ever lived. I've lived here longer than any other single location in my life; seven years. The day we unloaded our DIY moving truck, the neighbor came over and said, "If you need any help, let me know." I was kind of expecting that. I had done this enough times to now that "the-guy-next-door" would offer to help, and then become hard to find. Then he stopped, lifted my exhausted, sweaty hand into his, looked me in the eye and said, "I mean it. Is that a piano?" and proceeded to hop his 50+ year old self up into the back of the truck.
By the end of the afternoon, two more families from three and four houses away had brought us dinner and a tray of oatmeal bars. They are still our friends. Within a week I had been given leads on three potential jobs. I started making a paycheck within a month of our arrival. Every social group we joined welcomed us into not only their groups, but into their lives as well. Decorah seemed to want us.
I worked jobs that exposed me to people...LOTS of people. Food service, and sales; two trades known for high "jackwagons-to-raysofsunshine" ratios. Still, I found myself in the presence of really, truly, genuinely...nice...people. The people who weren't-so-nice...were at least honest. I'll take an honest jackwagon over a deceitful rayofsunshine any day. After four decades on this humanosphere we call Earth, I had never met so many people that were so...real, so genuine, and so caring. As I watched local politics and economics expose itself layer-by-layer, I also saw that this community is passionate, not passive. I like that.
When The Upper Iowa River showed Decorah who's The Boss in Summer 2008 I was blown away, not by water or wind, but by the sense of duty to our community. The sand trucks couldn't keep up with us. Volunteers shoulder-to-shoulder, so many shovels scooping into each new pile of sand under the Summer sun that the "schunk" of shoveling sand into sandbags and the sound of steel-against-steel almost drowned out the laughter and the planning of where to take those things when they were full. Those people; You People, are what make this place My New Hometown. Thank You.