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:
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:
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. « Read the rest of this entry »