I’ve been an Arizona girl in the land of the silicone and sunsets. I’ve been a Minnesota girl with the all things fried on a stick at the State Fair. I’ve been a Kentucky girl surrounded by the history of Mary Todd Lincoln and beautiful tree lined streets and horse fields and bourbon.

I am the prodigal child. I leave, I berate her, I ignore her. She waits for me. Her wicked ice storms blast my homecomings. Her oppressive summer heat makes me sweat and forces my clothes to cling to my body. All four seasons – to the extremes.

Forest Park

I have come home from the desert in the spring and have been overjoyed at green trees over hills and valleys from my feet to the horizon.

Lovely Missouri Hills

Floating in her dirty rivers and lakes, I have connected with my friends – no matter how stretch marked from children or grey haired or calico haired – no matter how long its been since the last time – my huckleberry friends all come home to each other.

Gasconade River 2009

I bitch at her snowfall that turns to ice. (Always, ALWAYS on my birthday weekend.) Grateful the snow will melt in a few days so I can bitch about the mud it leaves behind.

April and May bring the lilacs that remind me of my grandma and our lilac bush. Once a year, she gives me that connection to that woman gone six years now.

Morels fried in cracker crumbs. Catfish fried in cornmeal.

Summer apples – picked warm from the tree, pesticide buffed off on my shorts and eaten right there. Pecans all over my grandma’s yard. Climbing on the roof with my cousins because the pecans on the roof needed to be picked up too.

Homecoming parades full of high school bands and Shriners on their little trikes and bikes and cars.

Hearing the football game from a mile away on a Friday night. Hearing the speedway from MILES away on a Saturday night.

Winding roads, trees, rocks, lakes. Seeing the forest and the trees.

Campfires and songs. Waking in a cabin up from a river bank, covered in thick morning foggy dew.

Mississippi River Scenic Byway in Missouri

Stealth bombers flying overhead as a common daily event.

I went all the way to Germany and loved it best because it reminded me of home.

This home. Where all my ancestors settled over a hundred fifty years ago. Old country cemeteries where I recognize most of the names.

Tiny towns of 300 people. Gravel county roads marked by letters and spotted with Century Farms. Numbered highways surrounded by corn. Adding in extra time for a drive because you never know when you’ll get stuck behind a tractor. The little twinge of decadent guilt when passing a Mennonite horse carriage.

Kansas City and the Plaza Lights and high end shopping.

Springfield and two-thirds of my colleges attended.

M-I-Z-Z-O-U. Jayhawk/Tiger rivalry trash talk at every family function. Royals, Chiefs and Rams.

The Cardinals who kick some serious Game Six Ass!

She ain’t sexy or glamorous. She’s plain spoken and Show Me attituded. I’ve fought her my whole life. Now here I am.

I am Missouri’s daughter. She is my home. As summer is beginning to give up its fight, I realize how ready I am to just rest in her.

She is my home, and with all her flaws and beauty, she is enough. Just like her daughter.

(photos link to original images)