Friday, February 5, 2010

My Route's 15 minutes Of Fame

My little 25 miler that I ride all the time has been partially immortalized in digital film. "What's he going on about?" The end of my route was featured in a TV spot sponsored by the Farm Bureau. It has an interview with the man who owns one of the most picturesque parcels in Boone County, Mr. Jim McHugh. I stopped one late fall day last year to talk to Jim and found that he knows me as more than that crazy fool who's always riding his bike around, putting beer bottle caps on the fence posts. You see, the back story is a good one. My dad, Joe Moore, was the county assessor for 22 years. Now that is a hard job to do, collecting taxes from farmers! Easy to be disliked if you do your job right. Well, Jim is the stereotypical Iowa farmer if there ever was one. Huge hands, the size of a tilling disk, a voice so powerful that it cuts right into your heart, even without yelling, and eyes that look right into your intention! The type of person who has come to a level of wisdom via a life of hard work and honesty. An Iowan. Well, I saw Jim working some round hay bales with a tractor and gave him my usual "Hello there" wave. He shut down the tractor and motioned for me to come his way, which I did, wanting to tell him how I appreciate the land that he tenders so well. It really is a nice 40 acre place. Well I pulled up and he's sitting on the tractor and we exchange hellos. Then he casually says, "You wouldn't happen to be Joe Moore's boy." (not a question mind you) Well Shit! I can't get away with anything in this town, or in this whole stinkin' county! I have been told all of my life that I'm a dead ringer for the old man! So I fessed up and said, "Yes I am, but don't hold it against me." We both had a good chuckle and Jim related as how he admired my dad for sticking to his guns as the tax man, and as Jim said, "I wouldn't say that we were enemies, but we went around about a few things now and then." We talked for about a half hour about his land, how he decided to take it out of production and restore it to wetlands and prairie, and about the wildlife that has flourished there since he took steps to preserve the area. The enviro-geeks from Iowa State come out often and research plant life and water quality. There is even a guy writing part of his Master's on some research he did out there. Pretty cool, huh! Well, about a week later I saw a 30 second TV spot featuring water quality, and who do I see but old Jim McHugh himself. And some shots of his wetlands and Q Avenue in the background as Laurie (Groves) Johns gives her wrap up. It's a small world sometimes, and I love my little bit of it! Later!