Weekly Photo Challenge: Wall

Cheri Lucus Rowlands issued this week’s challenge suggesting that walls are “the canvases of our lives: where stories are read, voices are heard, ideas are shared.” Here are a few walls around my town that communicate some pride and support of our community.

Apparently, no business currently occupies this downtown building, but its boarded up windows lend a bit of beauty instead of blight.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

Boarded up windows painted in trompe l’oeil style.

This mural on the local YMCA conveys Creston’s past as its railroad depot and Bluegrass Palace are prominent features, highlighting the role of transportation and agricultural in its economy.

Blue Grass Palace 12'x24', 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

Blue Grass Palace 12’x24′, 2002, on the YMCA by Carl Homstad

The Creston News Advertiser, our weekday newspaper, invited the Southwestern Community College Art Club to paint this mural on the side of its building in 2006.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Mural on the side of the local newspaper publishing building painted by the SWCC Art Club.

Three of the four panthers on the wall of the high school gymnasium illicit “Panther Pride.”

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Panther mural in the Creston High School gymnasium

Finally, the high school commons is surrounded by photos of the achievements of present and former students. In 1997, the basketball team won the Iowa High School 3A state basketball tournament. My daughter, Katie, was a cheerleader. The cheer squad made it their goal to lead the student body in garnering the “Sportsmanship Award” and they succeeded!

Creston High School Wall of Fame - 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

Creston High School Wall of Fame – 1997 3A State Basketball Sportsmanship Award

You can find more examples of this week’s challenge HERE.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

This was Homecoming Week in Creston, Iowa. The home football team traditionally runs through a banner, challenging them to “carry the day.” For this special game, a friend’s son carried the Panther flag and was the first to break through this hand-painted sign, leading his teammates onto the field for the evening’s competition.

Of course that sign was only a hopeful prediction. The sign that really matters is the scoreboard at the end of the game. Our boys prevailed in the end, even adding a field goal to finish with a 50-35 win.


 Sherri Lucas Rowlands offered this week’s challenge. See more interpretations HERE.

Rural Iowa in the Fall

I’m not sure why, but fall has always been my favorite season. In spite of the seasonal allergies that come with it, fall’s first chill after a long, hot summer, the changing colors of the leaves and a bowl of hot chili all lend themselves to a season of aesthetically pleasing experiences.

Creston High cheerleaders and football players lead a pep rally at Mayflower Heritage Christian School on Friday

Then, add the rural component to fall. Yesterday was homecoming for Creston High School. Homecoming festivities in a small community are totally different from what I experienced in a metropolitan school. From fireworks* at the pep rally on Wednesday night to hundreds of people lining the streets for the parade on Friday, the week builds to a heightened expectation for victory on Friday night. Fortunately, our boys proved up to the task as they beat the #6 team in Iowa 3A football, Harlan, with a final score of 34-14. Creston Panthers, rated #8, have always considered beating Harlan their gauge of success, having only done it three previous times in the history of Panther football. With a win at Harlan’s home field last year (42-20), current players are the only ones to boast of back to back wins!

My participation in homecoming this year had its firsts. This was the first time I’d been asked to judge the class floats. At the request of Michelle Powers, a junior class officer, the local radio newsman and I carefully scrutinized the floats for creativity, originality and theme interpretation (board games). The freshman float came in first with a Monopoly theme, placing a Harlan “Cyclone” (a replica of a tornado) in the dreaded “jail” of that board game .

Next, Michelle’s dad, Joe, invited me to join him on the parade route as he pulled the junior class float. Having previously just taken a place on the parade route as a spectator in the downtown area, I was amazed to see the number of people, easily over a thousand, who turned out for the parade in the residential part of the parade route – a mile long trip from the high school to the downtown district. It was a great thing to see the number of adults with no current family connections to the school come out and support the youth.

Calico Aster along Redwood Ave

Back to the beauty of fall. The photo that serves as the header of this blog has been changed. The first picture was taken on July 5, 2011 (seen below) as we returned from a trip to Arkansas. I stopped 10 miles east of Creston to take a pictures of a fleeting sunset. Looking north, I took a few more pics of the road. When I started the blog earlier this year,  I thought the road picture would make a great representation of 1) rural life and 2) the idea of our spiritual journey with its ups and downs but generally staying straight and on course. It has been my intent to return to the spot on Redwood Ave, east of Afton, and take new pictures for each season of the year. So, this may be the fall header…or I may go back and see if the colors are better in a week.


Redwood Avenue, Rural Union County, IA, September 28, 2012

Redwood Ave, Rural Union Co. IA, July 5, 2011

*I wish I could share these experiences with my grandchildren, but after being with Charlie for the 4th of July, it may be a while before she enjoys the noise of fireworks. Months later she still remembers that “wireworks hurt my ears.”