You can define the word home with a dictionary, but to truly know what that word means you have to use your heart. It seems as though no matter where in the world I go, my heart belongs to Monett, in the heart of southwest Missouri. After gazing upon the Rocky Mountains and wading through the Gulf of Mexico I still can’t find anything more beautiful than the sight of the Ozark Mountains.
The rolling hills that go on forever seem to catch the sunlight in a way that nothing else can. It’s the kind of beauty that is almost impossible to capture because you know a photo can never fully encompass how it makes you feel in that moment. Rows of corn, pastures filled with cattle, and endless forests are the typical scenery in this part of Missouri. You probably don’t usually associate this state with breathtaking sights, but they’re there if you’re willing to take the gravel road to find them.
As a girl the fields were my escape. You could wander into what felt like a country version of Neverland and leave all your problems far behind you. I could spend hours hidden out in an abandoned barn, reading about distant places I hoped to one day see. Now that I’ve seen and experienced those distant places, all I want to do is go back to my spot in that old barn.
There’s just something about getting blissfully lost on a gravel road that heals your soul. You’re bound to find a cool creek along the way that you can stop and wade in for a while. The pace of life moves a bit slower out here. Though we don’t often take the time to smell the roses, we do smell the freshly cut hay and the earthy scent of horses daily.
While winter pales in comparison to a southwest Missouri summer there are still adventures to be had, albeit more difficult to find. The city park boasts a famous sled hill that is quite the challenge for even the most experienced sledder. Hot cocoa awaits you at Mocha Joe’s, the town’s one and only café. While you’re there I recommend the potato soup, it’s the best you’ll ever have.
Though it may not seem like much, passing through on the highway, headed to somewhere bigger and better. It’s the quiet modesty of southwest Missouri that gives it its charm. The fact that you can still feel like you’re the first person to ever discover its mystery is more than what most beautiful destinations can say. There is a certain calmness about Monett that makes you feel at home no matter where it is you come from.
We may not have a shopping mall or skyscrapers or even a tourist center, but we have heart. And that heart will spill out on to you if you take the time to witness all the beauty this place has to offer to you. So if you ever get the chance, or a passing whim, take a moment to let yourself be embraced in the arms of southwest Missouri.