I have three favorite cities and can't figure out which one I love the most. London, England, Sedona, AZ and Petersburg, NE (population 380).
I live only 20 minutes south of Sedona which was voted most beautiful city in the US. It is famed for it's beautiful red cliffs, deep canyons, countless hiking trails, best restaurants, and lots of art galleries. It is a magical city. I was vortexed three times in that city and if you don't know what it feels like to be vortexed I'll tell you in one easy lesson. It's like leaving your body and floating over it with the most wonderful, euphoric feeling you will ever experience. Personally, I think it's previews of coming attractions for the big one - when we drop our bodies.
Then there's London, mezmerizing, uplighting, joyful and historic London. In the center of the town are four large lakes, filled with flowers and swans in the spring. Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Houses of Parliament and Parliament Square are just a short walk away. If you like history you can spend months in London looking through all it has to offer. You can walk the same footpath that Charles II did, followed by all his spaniels. You can almot hear them barking for attention (same as his many mistresses) You can fill up an entire day going through the Tower of London and watching the London Bridge nearby. The bridges, the restaurants, the museums, the Cathedrals and more, more more. Fill up all the corners of your mind with London, beautiful, London. I'm sure that I lived there in another life for it feels like home everytime I go.
Petersburg, NE, home of my youth with main street only two blocks long. But you can walk barefoot from one end to another. You can experience the four seasons in all their color and majesty.
The word of these Midwestener is their bond. Old-fashioned values are not only a necessity, but also a surety. Reaching out is second nature and hospitality comes as easy as a smile. A hand is raised in greeting to anyone that passes and if a car breaks down at the side of the road, the local farmer not only will stop to help, but might wind up inviting his traveler home for dinner. These people have a kinship that unites them against outsiders and an outsider is anyone different. Despite their own easy-going manner, the proverbial picture of the country bumpkin rankles them. They liveand die by the land as talk revolves around weather and current prices of crops and livestock. The height of corn and the rich colors of soybean and oats measures their well-being. A tornado watch binds them together and rain, badly needed, brings more gratitude than a gift of money. Funerals, weddings, christenings, and other events provide a reason to gather and nurture. Even a fire unites them all. Local volunteers leap to the truck as it tears by, followed by droves of townspeople wanting to help. They are a strange breed with strong character, stubborn yet resilient, and realistic about a Mother Nature that rules their lives.
The town lies nestled in a lovely valley, its rolling hills in the spring resplendent with fields of corn in neatly bordered rows. Through meadows with tall grasses and multi-colored wildflowers wander cattle, their tails swishing back and forth, as they shuffle about in an aimless pattern. Rickety bridges abound crossing the dirt roads of the back country, the plankety plank sound of the wooden boards musical as one drives across. The land is drenched with thick clumps of trees, growing helter-skelter. Some follow lazy swirls near riverbeds with thick brush and undergrowth hovering around their trunks as they suck nourishment from the waters of riverbeds. At the end of a valley, near a large cluster of trees a small creek babbles, filling to its top with waters from the late winter's snow. It nurtures life as it splashes on rocks and splatters overhanging trees, spilling its vitality in small waterfalls, ending in shiny silent pools.
All around are cottonwood trees, sentry giants with glistening leaves of green and small beads of cotton still buried in their jackets. Groves of black walnuts with grizzled bark and maple with hand shaped leaves cluster in stately groups. Large oaks stand nearby, many of their branches bowed with age and the effort of holding up their arms all these years. Here and there, weeping willows dance like graceful wood nymphs. In my early teens I wrote a poem that I repeated endlessly after I moved away. The last stanza has never left me: "Wherever I go in the years to come, whenever my heart is tired and sad, I'll think of life in this lovely land and long for the moments that once I had."
I guess, judging in content it's a no contest, with Petersburg leading the pack.