In Honor of Kansas Day

Do you remember when we were young and free from concerns of time and place, and when we would encounter eternal moments by chance? We would drive east along prairie highways that rolled and snaked through broad meadows of tall bleached corn stalks, fenced by wooded domes and moated by crumbling gullies.tallgrassoctober

It was during the literal hour our folks taught us to call evening. Behind us, the retiring sun reddened every shiny facet of flora that had invisibly reflected the sunlight at noon. Now it gave creation a Sleepy Hollow cast, and we sped through together, alone, without fear, intent on capturing the treasured moment forever. But we envied Katrina Van Tassel her realm and longed to sample apple dumplings in their dappled syrup that ran down our chins. If we stopped, we would don sweaters and hold one another close as the spin of the earth stole our golden moment, though it remained in our memories.

Today I uncovered those memories by chance and glimpsed again those gilded fields when I felt the first crisp air of autumn rush by my face and felt the longing to drive east again with you.

Traveling East (Along Prairie Highways)

Do you remember when we were young and free from concerns of time and place, and when we would encounter eternal moments by chance? We would drive east along prairie highways that rolled and snaked through broad meadows of tall bleached corn stalks, fenced by wooded domes and moated by crumbling gullies.tallgrassoctober

It was during the literal hour our folks taught us to call evening. Behind us, the retiring sun reddened every shiny facet of flora that had invisibly reflected the sunlight at noon. Now it gave creation a Sleepy Hollow cast, and we sped through together, alone, without fear, intent on capturing the treasured moment forever. But we envied Katrina Van Tassel her realm and longed to sample apple dumplings in their dappled syrup that ran down our chins. If we stopped, we would don sweaters and hold one another close as the spin of the earth stole our golden moment, though it remained in our memories.

Today I uncovered those memories by chance and glimpsed again those gilded fields when I felt the first crisp air of autumn rush by my face, and felt the longing to drive east again with you.

Hedge Apple Heaven on Middle Earth: Twenty Reasons to Come to Kansas

The list below was published in the Abilene (Kansas) Chronicle on April 21, 1870. It was a nineteenth-century public relations piece aimed at attracting (apparently) farmers to the state. The Osage Orange the author mentioned is better known as the Hedge Apple tree today. The Hedge Apple, a tree that I have long admired, is a rapidly growing feature of natural windbreaks in Middle Earth. The author extols it as a renewable source of fence posts. We could have added a number twenty-one to the list and noted the fun that could be had during otherwise boring interludes by pelting one another with hedge apples. This practice has given birth to the sport called Kansas Dodge Ball (is this the origin of the name of Dodge City?). To understand a bit of the seriousness of this late summer games, just know that Rugby is to American Football as Kansas Dodge Ball is to (Greek) Dodge Ball. I will expand on the other merits of Kansas Dodge Ball in a subsequent article. It is not a pastime for weenies.

I do have questions and comments about the received list: What are the advantages of a new state over an old state? So Kansas is better than Massachusetts, but Nevada is better than Kansas? Why did the author not mention the abundance of wild cannabis when it was obvious he must have been smoking something when writing #5. Regarding reason # 9–take that Louisiana! Why were people in other states sending their children to Kansas to be educated? Were they on scholarship for Kansas Dodge Ball? I knew money didn’t grow on trees, but I didn’t realize it could be grown as a crop (#11). What else does one do at a Pomological Conference (#12)?  And finally, he convinced me with his salt and limestone arguments. That is what I always look for in a new location.

Twenty Reasons Why You Should Come to Kansas

  1. Because it is a new state (1861) and as such has innumerable advantages over any old state.
  2. Because it is as productive as any other state.
  3. Because what you raise yields you more profit here than elsewhere being raised at less expense.
  4. Because the weather and condition of roads enable you to do more work here than elsewhere.
  5. Because the climate is mild and pleasant.
  6. Because the short winters require little feed for stock.
  7. Because it is unsurpassed as a grazing region. Bluegrass takes naturally, and stock may be grazed upon it all winter.
  8. Because the population is enterprising. Towns and villages build rapidly, and great profits result from all investments.
  9. Because the climate is dry, and the country free from swamps. The money paid out in less healthy regions for the expense of sickness can here be used to pay for a home.
  10. Because the society is good, and educational and religious privileges can be found in every neighborhood. Children are being sent here from the older states for education.
  11. Because, owing to immigration, money is plentiful here, and produce commands good prices. Capitalists have confidence in Kansas investments, and money can easily be raised on Kansas property.
  12. Because fruit can be readily grown and sold at great profit. At the National Pomological Conference, held at Philadelphia, September 16, 1869, the Gold Medal was awarded to Kansas for the best fruit in the Union.
  13. Because railroads are building in every direction. Ten lines are now in process of construction, giving facilities for freight and traffic for every locality.
  14. Because lands can be more easily fenced than elsewhere, as the Osage Orange never fails, and grows very rapidly. It is a native of the southern borders of this state.
  15. Because the best of limestone for building and making lime is abundant. Hardly a square mile is destitute of a ledge, easily quarried and so situated as to not interfere with cultivation.
  16. Because we have a well watered country. The streams are clear and fed by streams.
  17. Because excellent coal beds are opened in every part of the state.
  18. Because there is timber enough for all practical purposes.
  19. Because vast salt deposits are found in the state, which will make this commodity plentiful and cheap.
  20. Because it is within the reach of every man to own a home in Kansas.