Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

I was taking pictures of our annual Balloon Day’s Parade but had my back to the street for a moment. I heard my name called and turned to find myself face to face with a clown. In my surprise I immediately took this off-centered picture.

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A second later I recognized him as a young man who attends my church and a former classmate of one of my daughters. As he walked away, I took another (better) picture of Josh (I’m not sure what his clown persona name is). I’m honored that he uses it as his Facebook profile picture. He gave me a tootsie roll, too!

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In this year’s parade, I captured him, again (I knew Elvis was still alive!)

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I’m glad I don’t suffer from coulrophobia (fear of clowns). I have always enjoyed clowns, remembering trips to the circus as a child and laughing at their outlandish outfits and outrageous stunts.

I also like etymology and was curious about the origin of coulrophobia. “Coulro” is perhaps taken from the Greek word “kolobatheron” which means “stilt” with sense of “stilt walker” and thus “clown.” While Josh’s clown cohort, Jon Carroll, with the Creston Elks Clowns isn’t a stilt walker, he is quite accomplished on the unicycle, dispensing candy from above. Click HERE for an article on his exploits.

Clowning is certainly one great way to “express yourself.” You can see more examples of this week’s theme 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.

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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.”