A puff of wind wiggled a spruce tree’s branches just enough to transform my world into a snow globe. The shake initially erased all around me into whiteness, and then gradually cleared to only a few sparkling white ballerinas dancing on liquid air.
As the final flakes settled, I pondered how it seemed the countryside was much more clear than it had been before the snow globe was shaken. It’s funny how that works, I’ve often thought, such loss of sight and then extra clarity when sight returns.
Perhaps it’s because I increase my focus on seeing through the falling flakes to the beauty of our rural countryside and its community.
Perhaps it’s because a good shake of the snow globe helps wash the rank and dust from the air.
Perhaps it’s because snow globes tend to light flames of imagination and creation, giving a mind the chance to slip through the clear containers’ hardness to enter worlds near and distant.
Perhaps it’s because there is simply no fun in allowing a good snow globe to sit on the shelf without the globe getting an occasional shake. No matter how striking their scenes, snow globes are meaningless unless the flakes are stirred into their liquid atmospheres.
I would never dare to guess whether others have felt the same effect, but there have been many times through my life when it took a good shake of my snow globe to remind me about where I should be and what I should be doing.
It’s appropriate that the shake occurred the other day, just as I was heading down the path of signing onto an organization to do more writing about this region’s communities.
As the whiteness resettled around me that day, I considered how this has become the snow globe that I know as home more than any others. The old dairy farm at the place called Veefkind over in Clark County certainly will forever hold my roots with an unrelenting grip, but the snow globe that is this place on the ridge overlooking Timber Creek truly is my home.
Sometimes I suspect that the generations of Eimons who years ago settled on this place peer into the snow globe to share with me what drew them to this countryside – the globe’s snow settling to reveal incredible vistas captured in the northern reaches of the Driftless Area that was left untouched by glaciers.
With me they see a community of people who still put premiums on neighborliness, friendship and learning.
With me they see people within reaches of the soil, many of them still elbow-deep.
With me they see ridges, coulees and small towns where learning is valued and young people thrive.
With me they see people of great creativity of words, music, performance and visual art.
With me they see places from which people can travel great distances to do important work, but their hearts and souls never really leave this snow globe’s sphere.
Over the years I’ve shaken many snow globes from many places.
Those other places’ globes all revealed beauty in their own ways, but none pulled me in with quite the mesmerizing effect that grabbed me when I peered into this place’s orb.
This, I know, is where I want – where I need – to be.
These are the people, I know, I want to be my neighbors.
This is the place, I know, where I want to tell the stories about the countryside, our communities and their people.
This is the snow globe, I know, where it’s perfect to complete life with my family.
Some people believe it’s not good to become lost in a single snow globe. It’s better to only look inside without allowing yourself to be trapped inside.
Maybe the magic, then, is in assuring your spirit is allowed to move freely in and out of your chosen globe. Even the most wondrous of places sometimes can feel too confining.
Still, it’s this snow globe we call Eimon Ridge into which I shall most enjoy gazing, and into which I think so many of this countryside’s neighbors also like to peer.
There, together, we’ll see the past, present and future, and share all the wonders we’ve viewed.
Along the way, I hope we remember to give our snow globe an occasional shake to help renew our vision.
— Scott Schultz