Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Seeing Home With a Visitor's Eyes

"...if I ever go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard."

These words spoken by Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz" couldn't be more true.

When you're looking for places to visit or interesting topics to study, it's not necessary to travel to exotic lands or spend a lot of money.

Today, my husband and I took a short day trip to Eldon, Iowa. It's only a little over an hour from home, but when we arrived, we discovered it has the house that is featured in the Grant Wood painting, American Gothic. The picture above is of the house as it appears today. The original painting appears below.

The house looks basically the same. The trees are a little taller today and the barn is missing, but after almost 80 years, that's to be expected.

Finding this house was an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Grant Wood is one of America's great artists and to be where he actually painted this classic work was exciting.

I've been to many places in America. I've seen the mountains, the oceans, the big cities, and the tourist traps, but it's always the little surprises around home that impress me the most.

The same is true wherever you live. Start seeing your hometown with a visitor's eyes. There are many lessons to be learned there. Local history is just as important as world history. Art in Eldon, Iowa is just as impressive as art in the Louvre. Grant Wood is as famous as Picasso. Studying and traveling close to home can be just as fun and interesting as backpacking across Europe or going on an African safari or taking a trip down the Amazon or going on an expedition in Antarctica. It's all in your attitude and seeing your local world from a different perspective. It's about being happy with what you have, being happy where you are, and knowing that everything you do and every place you visit offers an opportunity for adventure and learning.

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