Being an Army brat has it’s moments, lots of them actually. Every three or so years you leave your friends and comfort zone for the uncertainty of a new home and new friends. So it was that in a heavy sleet storm in March of 1964, a fourteen year old kid stepped out of the guest house at Ft. Leonard Wood to the smell of coal smoke and the cadence of troops marching to and from their training sites. I was that kid….and knew, somehow, that I was going to love Missouri. That feeling has been validated thousands of times over and I am proud to call Missouri home. At this point in life, we can live anywhere we choose……and we enjoy traveling, however; I smile when we return home and cross the state line, back to my adopted forever home.
I am a social creature by nature, and enjoy the crisp conversation with my fellow Missourians. The “Show-Me” stuff that is a part of the recipie that constitutes a Missourian is solidly based in fact. There is no California pretentiousness or New York frenzy in our folks. They will look you in the eye, smile and call you on your iteration of fact. There is something absolutely right about a denim clad, native Ozarkian, smelling of woodsmoke who willingly stops what he is doing to help you load something heavy at the local farm store. I am certain that I would be lost on Rodeo Drive, but can stretch a barbed wire fence, pull a calf or split oak for the wood stove. Like so many of my fellow Missourians, I can also skin a squirrel, find morels and jerk a limit of slabs on a misty Ozark morning. I am most comfortable around folks who can do the same. Missourians tend to be rather pragmatic….in speech and custom, and you won’t need a Thesauris or dictionary to understand what they are saying. The strong German influence in and around central Missouri, due in part to the German POW’s who chose to remain here after the war, no doubt contributes to this no nonsense lifestyle.
I also enjoy the four season environment in Missouri. We enjoy cold winters, hot summers and beautiful transitions during the spring and fall. I am guessing it is the outdoor opportunities that I cherish most. I have killed a number of deer, a truck load of small game, eight turkeys, a handful of pheasants and my share of quail. I have yet to be bored when driving through any part of the state, and am still awed by the landscape, whether it be the row crops of the north or the rugged razorbacks, glades or ridges of the Ozarks. Thundering across Truman Lake in a bass boat or drifting silently on the Big Piney is a catharsis……..a perfect setup for a really cold one in one of our country taverns at the end of a day on the water. A fellow named Oz Hawksley, a perfect moniker for a canoe paddling outdoorsman, wrote a great book, “Missouri Ozark Waterways” in which he goes into some detail mapping our float streams for folks not familiar with their options. A silent float on the Piney, Gasconade or the Niangua will introduce you to a side of life that cannot be replicated elsewhere, believe me. The smell of woodsmoke, the friendliest smell in the world, is absolutely enchanting on a crisp Ozark evening, promising warmth and a certain defiance of winter’s cold, or the night chill on a float stream courtesy of the cold water springs that give the stream life.
I am writing this in response to a query from the fellow who sold us our RV awhile back, who asked me if we were contemplating relocating to a warmer clime or another part of America. I responded, “Oh hell no……..the RV will provide the opportunity to travel across this beautiful country, always returning home and smiling when I see the sign saying “Welcome to Missouri”. Home is where the heart is…….and my heart is in Missouri.
Missouri may not be perfect……but we can see perfect from just about anywhere in this great state……really!