{ Flint Hills in Kansas }

February 19, 2014 § 1 Comment

I haven’t been genuinely surprised in a while. Then I saw the Flint Hills in Kansas.

Call me state-ist, or maybe suggest I go west of the 94th meridian west once in a while. That’s fine. Probably true, given how I’ve always conceptualized Kansas:

srsly

srsly. Original art © Tina Casagrand, all rights reserved.

Have you ever said or thought something so completely asinine that you deserved to be punched? That—the punch, that is—was this scene, driving to Wichita southwest from Kansas City a couple evenings ago:

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user

Srsly gorgeous. Photo by Flickr user by TJ Morton.

WTF, Kansas? What are you hiding? This is funny because I say I love prairies. I’ve even planned trips out to Kansas with my boyfriend, who hails from more easterly origins, and is thus more deeply awed by such expansive landscapes. And I’ve heard  of the Flint Hills, sure. But that ultra-flat, sunflowers-and-corn idea was so ingrained, it blinded me to my very not-flat neighbor.

I started to notice a change in landscape right before a Flint Hills welcome sign. Knobby peaks, brittle chert, tall grass that’s ribboned like sandstone. This week, ponds and jagged creeks were frozen, and the last shreds of a late-winter snow hung onto north slopes. Only scribbled tree limbs broke those subtle striations.

Well, that, and one “Rock Chalk Jayhawk” billboard. Gag.

A good reminder that you can tell a person about beauty a million times, but there’s no substitute for seeing it first-hand. And that, if I’m going to advocate for “flyover country,” I, myself, need to hack away at those preconceived notions. Here’s an essay on that idea of nothing, told through the Flint Hills.

{ Also }

Listening
The Sixth Extinction audiobook by Elizabeth Kolbert

Watching
Corgi Flop, which I’m showing to students at the University of Oklahoma this week. Claiming the video symbolizes seizing opportunities. Really just enjoying watching corgis flop.

Reading
The Prairie Ecologist, a wonderful blog from farther north in Nebraska
Worst Room, also shown to OU students. Evidence of small town sanity.

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