the frozen ground we walk on

On Tuesday, to celebrate Boyfriend’s last exam and first afternoon free in many weeks, we drove across the plains to Amana. (Amana, the little German colony of Inspirationists, you remember that, right?) I had half-way hoped to see the Tannenbaum Forest, an old barn filled with Christmas trees decorated by local businesses, which was up in last year’s “Prelude to Christmas” Festival during the first weekend of December last year, but alas: closed! The entire village was oddly, eerily empty. Who would have thought that a rural village in eastern Iowa would be bereft of tourists and visitors on a 15 degree midweek afternoon? Shocking, I tell you.

The landscape around us was a frozen, muffled gray, like the colorless sky had draped a blanket over the corn fields, but the village of Amana was decorated quite beautifully. Bowed-up ribbons and fir branches wrapped around every fence, and wreathes in the windows. Gray sky, gray ground, but the holiday spirit had definitely set up camp here. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light!”

We contained our merrymaking to the Amana Gerneral Store, which still had some incredible gingerbread houses up on display from the Prelude to Christmas competition. Lighthouse gingerbread houses. Seashore shack gingerbread houses. Covered bridge gingerbread houses. How do they make these??

And I suppose now is good a time as any to tell you that the Amana General Store, like a lot of kitshy beach town shops, has an entire room dedicated to Christmas. Oh yes, year round. It was very exciting — it felt right, yknow? — to visit that room in December. BUT you would think, wouldn’t you, that the Christmas Shop in the Amana General Store would have some Iowa-themed, Iowa-made, or otherwise Iowa-related ornaments, would you not? I’m not asking for Hawkeyes to hang, I know that wouldn’t jibe with their country-kitsch angle, but not even a cornstalk-whittled ball? This gets my goat every time we visit. But the little creches and snow-topped village scenes, they’re alright. After wading through eleven other months, they’ve finally found their way home.

Much like myself. Back in DC for the next couple weeks. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE! Blogging will continue throughout the (slightly warmer) winter holidays.

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