Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kansas

Sometimes things to write pop in my head. Here's one of them I've written up today. Eventually I'd like to polish this up into something I could get published. It's very rough…read at your own risk.

I haven't been to the entire Midwest, but to me, Kansas is the best part of the entire country. A man old enough to be my grand dad told me that visitors to his farm in southwestern Kansas always think the drive there is boring. "They must not be looking around then," he says with a smile. I quietly agree thinking of the Flint Hills, the area that surrounds his acreage. The Flint Hills is an area with gently loping hills and limestone outcroppings that surround the highway that goes through them. The only two times I've driven through them I've been awed. The first time, it was autumn and most people might have thought it was dead land. But to me it was beautiful waves of gold and light brown. Cows graze and gaze at passing cars from behind wire and post fences. The sun was going down behind the hills and some of the leftover tall grass was waving in the wind. It was sparse, harsh and beautiful in the way that a lone soldier who has survived a terrible battle is beautiful. The second time it was summer and a rainstorm had just passed. The hills were covered in short vibrant green grass that looked like the algae that lies on top of dormant ponds. Between the grass covering rich black soil popped and tiny limestone crevices made their presence known by the color differentiation. There are no real cities in the Flint Hills, so no buildings obscured my view of the thunderstorm ahead of us. For miles and miles gray-blue clouds blanketed the sky and rich green grass lay on the land.

Sometimes I want to drive to the middle of Kansas to find out what's there. The thing you learn about this state is it's so different from place to place. While the Flint Hills is an obvious beauty to anyone with brains to look at it, the eastern part of the state can look barren year round. In summer, going south to Moran, KS I notice the whole earth seems to have come from a sepia toned photograph. The grass is parched and the same light yellow that aged linen has. The sky is a light blue even though it's 110 degrees out. The clouds are the only things that are noticeable. They're big, fluffy cotton balls floating around like the clouds you see in the Mario Brother's games, except in 3-D. I know that sounds silly, but that's really what they remind me of. The spring brings color to the east. Bright green corn stalks stand tall above the dark brown earth. Little soy sprouts come out of the dirt to play with the sun. Deer graze by the highway in the evening and the stars twinkle most bright in the evening blue sky.

That's the funny thing about seasons in Kansas. There are only two seasons where people can be outside all day, fall and spring. And boy, are they beautiful seasons. The air is a perfect 65 degrees, just right for a pumpkin patch or for bike riding in the park. But those seasons are over quickly, too quickly. Winter and summer are the eternity months. In winter, only crazy people go outside. It can be 20 below easy on any given day. We get ice storms in October. Summer is just the opposite. It's 120 degrees out and grandmas and grandpas with no a/c are dying in the heat. Going outside leads to unthinkably fast dehydration and overheating. But the funny thing is, it can be minus 20 one day or 120 and then the next day it's 75 degrees outside, sunny and perfect. That's what's the best about this place. The weather teaches us to be grateful for good days when we have them. On those rare perfect days in winter or summer, everyone goes back outside, everyone is in a good mood, and no one is impatient to wait on anyone else. It's a happier place and everyone who's the enjoying the day really takes time to slow down and soak in the deliciousness of the beauty, because they know it could easily be gone the next day. It's like the alternative Midwestern motto, "if you don't like the weather, wait two seconds and it'll change." But it's the inverse. "Enjoy what you have today, for tomorrow it will not be like this and then you'll have to wait another month or week to get it again."

I read Laura Ingalls Wilder books when I grew up and I remember when her family came to Kansas. She and her father looked out at the plains. "It looks endless, doesn't it?" He asked her. "Yes," she breathed, wondering where the earth met the sky.

3 comments:

Dennis said...

It's always nice to read good things about Kansas and especially the Flint Hills. Thanks for coming. Come again and stay awhile.

Dennis
http://flinthillstallgrass.com

Dr. Bill ;-) said...

Positive mention of the Flint Hills always gets my attention! Thanks!
So happy it brought me to your site.

Our 22 county Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Inc. promotes visits to the Kansas Flint Hills – the website is: http://www.kansasflinthills.travel/

Best wishes!
Dr. Bill ;-)
Personal Blog: http://flinthillsofkansas.blogspot.com/

KsCowboy said...

You said "Sometimes I want to drive to the middle of Kansas to find out what's there." Well come on! You'll find hard working individuals who will give you the shirt off their back if you need it. You'll find beauty in nature if you'll look for it. You'll find solice for the soul if you need it. You'll find a gratifying way of life if you want it.