I grew up in very rural Illinois near a town on Old Route 66 called Pontiac. Pontiac is a sleepy little town centered by an ornate old courthouse, scene of a Jamie Lee Curtis movie a few years back. This year, a group of sign-painters who call themselves the Walldogs, met there and in a brief period of time painted 17 beautiful wall murals in the center city. The photo above is of one of the murals. (Click on the URL above and "The Murals" to see all 17). The city fathers intend the murals will attract more of the tourists who still travel the Old Route 66 on nostalgic vacations across the country.
With my son and his wife, I returned there for a family gathering on the 4th of July. Large wind farms have sprung up midway between my home in Indiana and Pontiac. It is strange to see these tall, silver sentinels on the landscape, their three arms slowly turning, marching in rows across the fields as if they were giant whirligigs planted by some unseen hand. I had read there was often controversy about them because they were noisy, so we diverted from the highway just a bit and drove nearly to the base of one. We turned off the car engine and sat listening, but heard only a distant, soft whooshing, which seemed almost soothing. With the exception of their presence, all appeared as it has for the years of my memory. Middle Illinois is a vast prairie of rich farm land, so flat it seems the orderly rows of corn and soybeans reach to the horizon, broken only by tidy squares of well-manicured lawns of farm homes and outbuildings. A brief detour around bridge construction on the highway took us down one-lane roads along the fields, where the sounds and smells of the city fall away. The world seemed silent and at peace, and the occasional bird or small hawk lifted away from the fencerows to let us know we’d disturbed them by our passage. It is home.