Prairie Center: Midwesterners Speak (Part 5)

As folks know, I’ve been conducting an informal survey to get a sense for what is “quintessentially Midwestern.” Based on the previous posts and this most recent bullet list, I can’t say I have any definitive answers, but I will say I’m a lot closer to understanding the lifestyle here than I was 9 weeks ago.

There is a sense of slow and steady work in the Midwest, a sense of family, and a sense of time spent on worthwhile tasks (tasks that are industrial or physically productive or positively influential to communities). Iceberg lettuce and Jell-O salads continue to come up in conversations. Also, condiments seem to be their own food group–as in, there are lots of them, and they are consumed en masse. Apparently there’s really no such thing as a meal without them. On a less flattering note, I’ve encountered an embarrassing use (and waste) of paper and plastic disposable eating products, and less awareness or devotion to recycling than any place I’ve ever visited.

For previous, more in depth explorations of Midwestern culture, see Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this series. Today’s post is the conclusion:

What is quintessentially Midwestern?

Ceramic artist Aaron Sober wrote: “The ability to find beauty in a landscape that does not have any exclamation marks to focus on. There is only the horizon and more of what you see in front of you.”

Author Patricia Ann McNair wrote: “The assumption that someone will be willing to speak with you in an elevator.”

Metalsmith Deb Karash wrote: “Humility, practicality, and a strong work ethic.”

Writer and musician Paul Baerman wrote: “Hot dish. That’s different. Silent greetings.”

Painter and nanny Zoelle Fishman wrote: “Four full fledged seasons. And being nice to other people.”

Textile artist Dana Fehsenfeld wrote: “I think that saying ‘Hi’ to strangers is an inherently Midwestern trait. It seems that where ever I go I meet a couple midwesterners and we all agree.”

Thanks, all, for making it possible!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.