I love the way she wears her trees, wild and tangled, blowing in the breeze, or in orderly rows groomed for harvest.
I love her volunteer fire departments and service clubs in every town.
I love those big round bales of hay softening the scenery.
I love it that one may write, "Our government lied to us," as I've done in this very space, without fearing a knock at the door in the night.
I love it that even a simple-minded phrase like "Love it or leave it" implies both the liberty to come and go and the freedom to speak your mind.
I love town festivals and county fairs with their Tilt-A-Whirls and dart games and prizewinning watermelons and beauty contests and freak shows.
I love a country where it's possible to ponder six impossible things before breakfast while reading the daily paper.
Where the future arrives on air-cushioned shoes and on-board computers and downloaded songs and satellite TV.
Where strangers still say, "Bless your heart" or "What can I get for you, Honey?"
I love fried chicken and tacos and sushi and hot-and-sour soup and bratwurst and okra and pickled beets and cheeseburgers-all-the-way.
A country where Mom and Dad and Junior and Sis dress up on Sunday mornings and go some place to think on eternity and goodness and imbibe inspiring music and commune with neighbors.
A country where you have your choice at midnight or noon of shows about the Milky Way or God or pop music or "Seinfeld."
I love the goofball optimism expressed by eight or nine obscure politicians running for president against the most popular commander-in-chief of our times.
A country where ordinary folks start new businesses and really mean it when they tell their children, "You can become anything you put your mind to."
Where amid all the blather and shouting it's still possible to hear reasoned, Socratic debate or just good conversation and absorb light amid the heat.
I have to love a place where lots of old folks can afford land-yachts that ferry them from campground to campground across the continent for mingling amid a spirit of adventure.
Where the unfortunate are often clothed and fed by their neighbors.
Where lightning bugs float from the ground in timeless choreography flashing neon gold.
How hummingbirds, herons, woodpeckers and doves may all be seen in one summer run.
I love "America the Beautiful" and "Summertime" and "Just A Closer Walk with Thee" and "Georgia On My Mind" and "Cry Me A River" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" and "Big Yellow Taxi" and "Stardust" and "My Girl" and "What A Wonderful World" and "Me and Bobby McGhee" and a thousand other songs from an amazing mix of traditions. I love a country where it's possible to believe in evolution AND God, a free market AND universal healthcare, the welfare of our troops AND world peace. A clean environment AND jobs, the need for highways AND open spaces.
A country where some flaunt sensuality while others maintain dignified reserve.
I love a country that measures its growth not only in GNP and military might but also in civil liberties, conservation, scientific know-all, improved nutrition and healthcare.
A country of bigger-than-life characters such as Ben Franklin, Sam Houston, Margaret Sanger, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Jim Thorpe, Woody Allen, Marilyn Monroe, Billy Graham, Elvis, Ken Kesey, Johnny Cash and Katherine Hepburn.
I love belonging to a nation based on representative democracy, a nation of independent men, freed slaves and liberated women, a nation that defeated Nazis and Stalinists.
A nation willing to revisit history and get the story right so we may know what really happened to the Cherokee and Sioux and African-Americans and Japanese-Americans and also the buffalo and passenger pigeon and which of our wars were based on lies.
I love this nation that has pierced the rings of Saturn, launched astronauts to the moon, peered to the edges of space and time and given us images of the whole Earth.
I savor "It Happened One Night" and "Double Indemnity" and "Intolerance" and "The Wanderers" and "Blade Runner" and "Casablanca" and "Jerry McGuire" and "Star Trek" and "Northern Exposure."
Sacred phrases that roll down the ages, "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." and "When in the course of human events..." and "Four score and seven years ago..."
Our freedom to protest and fuss and love with abandon, to dance in the streets, to play our music loud and shout at those who play our music loud, to gather together and barbecue and set off fireworks and howl at the moon and....
As I said it's an unfinished list, like our great, unfinished nation.