Wednesday, July 29, 2009

God's Country

(Highway 36 in Kansas between Bird City and McDonald)
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A few years ago, the wrestling coach at my school took a group of athletes to the state tournament in Hays. Out of all of students, only two had been west of Topeka. As he drove the coach kept talking about how western Kansas was God's country. At a rest area one of the wrestlers surveyed the landscape and said,"I think I know why they call this God's country. It's because out here it's just you and God, and that's about it. There aren't even trees here."
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I thought about this story as I drove west last night and I chuckled.
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I love all of Kansas, especially the High Pains west of Hays.
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I love how strangers are more apt to wave as I drive through a town.
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I love the small town restaurants and convenience stores where farmers and ranchers gather to talk and drink coffee.
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I love how the stars and moon are more spectacular west of Hays.
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I love the sunsets west of Hays.
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I love how the people tend to be friendlier and more sincere the further west I drive.
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I love how the weather is always the center of conversation for those on the High Plains who make their livings from the land..
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I love how it is God's country, and there's something spiritual about the landscape.
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What do you love about your region of the country? I'd love to hear from you.
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I'm in southwest Nebraska, and tonight I'll be enjoying the Dundy County Fair.
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feelin' small under this big sky,
muddy

10 comments:

Jenni said...

A few years ago I attended the KATP Field School in Nicodemus. I had to drive northwest of Hays to get there. It certainly is beautiful country. Over the past 18 years of living in Kansas, I've come to appreciate those wide open spaces, but it wasn't always so. I love the precise spot we live because I can look to the east directly behind our house and see cliffs and woods but I can look to the west across from us and see my neighbor's pasture and beautiful sunsets. It's the best of both worlds.

Enjoy the fair and that funnel cake. Fair food is one of my favorite types of cuisine. I never have been brave enough to try a deep fried Twinkie, Snickers, or pickle, though.

Amanda said...

One of my favorite drives in Kansas is I-35 between Emporia and Wichita. I LOVE driving through the Flint Hills in the spring when everything is green. It reminds me so much of driving through the countryside in Ireland. People say there's nothing in Kansas, but obviously, those people haven't been here long enough to see the beauty of our great state!

PictureGirl said...

What a nice post about Kansas.

One thing I like about driving through Kansas during the summer months is all of the fields of sunflowers. I love it.

I live in southern Missouri in the Ozarks. Lots and lots and lots of trees in this area. And hills although technically they are worn down mountains. Much older than the Appalachians and much, much older than the Rockies.

I love all the rivers and cricks (as they say in my area for creeks).

I live in a farming community, so lots of hay fields and corn fields. And cows and horses.

A lot of our area sounds like the area of Kansas you are talking about. Strangers you pass on the road wave. The weather is a main topic of conversation in our local eatery.

People get together for pickin' and grinin' sessions on Friday nights.

You can get up on top of one of these balds (top of an ozark mountain) and see over into Arkansas.

Missouri is green. That's my best description.

Great post.

Nella said...

I share you love of the Midwest.

Lil' Johnny said...

I landed on your blog randomly, this is the best blog post I've read all week.

I live in the San Joaquin Valley in California and I really like going from the wide open space of the valley up to the Sierra Nevada foothills then the mountains. During spring there is nothing like it everything is so green its like a little piece of heaven. Millions of wildflowers and all kinds of critters running all over the place. People in the S.J. valley are similar to the folks you described in your post, sincere, honest and always talking about the weather.

Thanks.

kb said...

walking through the woods in the middle of autumn when all the leaves are different colors and they make a gentle crunching sound as you walk. And there's a crispness in the air that you can feel in your lungs and you are feelin good because you have nowhere to go and the chiefs just won...

JoAnna said...

My favorite place on earth is the front porch of my parents home outside of Pomona, Kansas. The view from that hilltop goes for miles and overlooks the Chippewa Hills. Always a slight breeze and so many birds singing.

Heading to Altamont, IL next week to another part of God's Country to enjoy the fair in my husbands hometown. The view from his parents home is hard to beat too. Fair food will consist of the fried fish sandwiches from the Catholic ladies group, corn dogs and elephant ears!

muddywaters said...

Jenni: That is a beautiful drive. I do miss the trees when I drive west. I don't know if I could live somewhere without trees.

I ate a funnel cake sprinkled with powder sugar. We keep it simple here at The Greasy Skillet.

Amanda: I love that drive also. The author Larry McMurtry lists this as one of his favorite drives. The drive on Highway 56 from Allen to Council Grove is probably my favorite Flint Hills drive.

PictureGirl: Thanks for sharing your love of the Ozarks. I wish Kansans gathered to pick and grin. I love that mountain music.

muddywaters said...

Lil' Johnny: Thanks for visiting. I hope you come by often. I appreciate your passion for the San Joaquin Valley. It sounds beautiful. I've never had the privilege of visiting this part of the country.

KB: Since the Chiefs rarely win, I suggest you cheer on the Jayhawks this fall, so that you can savor such special moments in the woods more frequently.

muddywaters said...

JoAnna: I agree. Your parents' home is a special place. A lot of people don't know about the Chippewa Hills. I taught with a man who lives out there, and in the spring, we'd go out there and sit on his porch and drink beer.

Thanks for the lowdown on the Illinois fair food. Have a great trip.