Thursday, October 20, 2005

Life in a Small Town

We've just come back from several days spent in Monticello, Iowa (population 3,607). The day we arrived, we headed down to the public library to use the computer. All four computers were in use, said the librarian, and would be available in about an hour. She remembered us from our trip last June and our daily one-hour internet-addicted visits. We didn't give her our names or our phone number, but exactly one hour later the phone at my in-laws' house rang. It was the librarian; two computers had opened up and she would reserve them for us if we would come right down.

A similar thing happened this summer when we were visiting, and my son attended vacation bible school at one of the local churches. I was a bit concerned when registering him that I only had to provide my son's name and age and a parent's name. No address, no phone number, no liability release. However, on the second day of VBS, we got a call from the church saying that he had thrown up and maybe we should come get him.

Later this week, my husband went with his dad to make a delivery at an Amish farm in Kalona. They also bought some chickens and a couple dozen eggs (non-certified organic) and received a gift of a large bag of apples and an Angelfood cake, made from scratch by the farmer's wife. They don't have electricity, so it left us wondering how she bakes such beautiful cakes - wood stove? Propane oven? D. and the farmer, a 30-something father of seven, had an interesting conversation about midwives and homebirth and vaccinations and such. Like us, they birthed their firstborn in a hospital; and two midwives in their community assisted the rest. In Iowa, direct-entry midwifery is illegal, but even the most midwifery-hostile states tend to refrain from prosecuting midwives who work exclusively within religious communities. Some states, like California, have a specific religious exemption (art. 2063, Medical Practices Act) for traditional midwives. (Compare, however, the case of Judy Wilson who served both Amish and non-Amish populations in Pennsylvania. Her trial is scheduled for January).

Another neat thing we did was visit the Field of Dreams in Dyersville. We brought along a couple of plastic balls & bats and the boys (ages 4 1/2 and 2 1/2) took a couple of swings and ran the bases. We also walked out of the corn. The Field of Dreams is actually two separate entities - the Lansing family's Field of Dreams Movie Site, where the house used in the movie is located; and the Ameskamp family's Left and Center Field of Dreams, which owns 3rd base and left field. Of course, a feud ensued between the two property owners. Rumor has it that the two parties have patched things up; for instance we noticed the groundskeepers aerating the field on both sides of the property line. Reminders of the division remain, however; two separate roads run down to the site, and a sign on the Lansing farm side lets you know that the Left and Center site is run by "an out-of-state investment trust." For the record, while the Field of Dreams Movie Site has a bigger & closer parking lot, the Left and Center site has a much bigger souvenir shop (with drinks and snacks) and better displays of educational/historical information.

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