Impressions of the Midwest


I may have grown up southern, but I was born in the midwest. Omaha, Nebraska… to be exact. On a cool autumn’s day in October.

But I grew up distant from my real hometown. My parents moved to south Florida before I turned one. You can’t imagine two more totally different places than Nebraska and south Florida. Within the continental United States, anyways.

In spite of being Nebraska’s largest city, Omaha is not that easy to access. There are no direct flights from my nearest airport, instead having to always connect in Atlanta (joke in the South: when a southerner dies and goes to heaven, his/her soul must first pass through Atlanta). This means I grew up without having a real sense of what it meant to be from the Midwest.

I can’t share with you my first impressions, as I was way to young to have any memories. But I can share with you my new impressions since I’ve been back to visit as an adult.

There’s more to the state than just corn fields.

Yes, there are corn fields. And guess what? They are pretty beautiful. “Knee high by the Fourth of July” goes the saying, and I think that’s when the fields look their best. Rows upon rows of corn covering the rolling hills. It has a calming effect on anyone passing by, like time has slowed. And what was the hurry anyways?

The people are friendly.

The South has a reputation for hospitality, but the Midwest shouldn’t be snubbed on that account. This is one of the friendliest regions in America. The people are without airs, and their good values are evident in their priorities: family, the land, and Nebraska football.  Interesting fact, it’s not uncommon for an older citizen to still live alone and be self-sufficient well into their late 80s and early 90s. I contribute it to the excellent beef and emphasis on outdoor living.

Speaking of the beef… it’s amazing.

Omaha Steak Company is not a nationally recognized brand for no reason. And the steaks you can buy in-state are even better. Cows are as common as corn fields here, and they raise them to the highest standard in terms of quality. You can actually taste the difference. Farmers here have even been known to put Nebraska Huskers jerseys on their cows on game day.

Speaking of game day… the Nebraska Huskers football are like a religion.

Where else would you find an ex-head football coach who was elected to the House of Representatives? Tom Osborne is a legend among men, and the emotional well-being of the entire state lies in the final score. There are no other teams of consequence in the state, meaning no other rivals for attention. All of Nebraska supports one team. Rarely do you find unity to that magnitude anywhere else.

Time slows down, and that’s okay.

A New York minute doesn’t stand a chance here. Nebraskans choose to savor each moment, preferring to place emphasis on the quality of the moment. This is not to suggest they are lazy. By all means, billionaire investor Warren Buffet lives within the Omaha city limits. In the spirit of the people, he does in fact live quite modestly. In a house that is completely accessible to anyone driving by instead of some huge, gated Italian-inspired villa complex. No, that would never fly for this state. And they like it that way.

I may not have spent much time in the midwest growing up, but I am thoroughly enjoying becoming reacquainted these past few years. Who knows, after all this international travel maybe I too will heed the call of the land and return. I’d just need to brush up on my tractor skills a bit, and study that Nebraska Huskers roster.

{Image by Andreas H}

  • I loved reading about your perspective on that part of the US. As someone who has driven through the never-ending corn fields, I never thought to stop and think about how beautiful they can be!

    • Thank you Katie!! I’ve really come to love those rolling hills of corn. We don’t have anything like that in Florida. Of course, someone driving around here might love the rows of citrus and I hardly give those a second thought! lol I guess it all depends on what we’re used to seeing. 🙂

  • Corinne Vail

    Amy, I love the midwest. I lived in Kansas for one year. It was…pretty in its own treeless way, but I have to say the midwesterners should win the award for being the friendliest, most helpful…and just plain nice people in our entire country!

    • Midwesterners are some of the friendliest people I have ever encountered! They are so welcoming and humble. That atmosphere always makes my trips out there so enjoyable. I have never been to Kansas (unless my parents took me as a child, in which case I don’t remember) but I’m sure it’s much the same as Nebraska as far as culture goes. Great area of the States.

  • Dave

    I had a really good time in Omaha when I went to a cousin’s wedding there. Wonderfully friendly people and, as you mentioned, the beef is incredible! I have not enjoyed American meat in a while and look forward to digging in to an Omaha steak the next time I’m back in the U.S., as my family keeps a stock in the freezer.

    • Weddings and Omaha are the perfect combination! The last two times I was there (before this recent trip) were for weddings. And the beef… oh my goodness. They are indeed spoiled out there in that regards! Although all my Nebraska family members get their fill of seafood when they come to visit us, so I guess it evens out lol.

  • I admit the only Midwest city I’ve been to is Chicago which is probably not a good representation of the Midwest you’re referring to here 😉 One of the reasons we’d love to drive cross country is to see this part of middle America. I’d love to taste Omaha steaks within the city limits. Thanks for the inspiration to visit Nebraska.

    • Thank you Mary!! I haven’t been to Chicago yet, but I hear that there is some amazing food there. All my foodie/chef friends rave about that city! Driving across America is the best way to experience it I think. Although it can get long, there are so many places to see that would otherwise get skipped over. And definitely get a steak if you are ever in Omaha – you just can’t beat Nebraska beef! 🙂