Someone must have planted the sedum that grows by the stone wall near the bridge I cross every day, but for years now it has thrived there without care. No one tends to it and yet it stands spring, summer, fall and winter. It takes on a peculiar look when covered in snow – like little cone-headed aliens have invaded a part of my world, but just until the snow melts!
Among other faces in the crowd is the work of a street artist here on the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic – one of my favorite cities! Construction of the historic bridge, which crosses the Vltava River, started in 1357 under the auspices of King Charles IV, and was finished in the beginning of the 15th century. Today, swarms of tourists cross it daily on their way to and from the famous Prague Castle.
I’m a Kansas girl, just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz! We have much in common, Dorothy and I. We have both visited places far, far away… beyond the yellow brick road… and yet Kansas always beckons us home.
Kansas is “fly-over” country! As planes fly across the heartland headed from one coast to the other, passengers fail to see the acres of wheat that wave up at them from the wind-swept fields of the great plains. In Kansas, you’ll find miles and miles of flat, fertile farmland with gently rolling hills peaking up here and there—especially in the Northeastern corner of the state near Kansas City.
Born and raised in the rural mid-state region, I have since made my home in a suburb of Kansas City on the Kansas side. The Missouri River divides the states of Kansas and Missouri as it cuts through the heart of our city. With a population of approximately 2.2 million including suburbs on both sides of the state line, Kansas City is a cultural hub and is best known for barbecue, craft beer and jazz.
Kansas City is called the City of Fountains, the largest percentage of which can be found at the popular Country Club Plaza. The Plaza is a European inspired open-air shopping center that is well known for its stunning display of Christmas lights.
Union Station was once one of the busiest railroad terminals in the country, serving an annual passenger traffic of over 670,000 at the end of World War II. Closed in the 1980’s, Union Station set empty until a bi-State initiative in 1996 helped save the iconic landmark.
We have no oceans, no mountains, no ancient treasures to admire in Kansas, which is why I love to travel. As a tourist, I will often turn to my husband and say, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”! But after a few weeks spent “somewhere over the rainbow” in some of the loveliest places on earth, I’m usually ready to click the heels of my ruby-red slippers and repeat the words “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”, just like Dorothy did. Then, poof—I find myself back home in Kansas!
Our beloved white schnauzer, Heidi, will be 15 years old in a few days! She suffers from arthritis and can’t see or hear as well as she used to, but for her age she is doing remarkably well. She has developed an attitude that suggests–no demands–that we cater to her every desire, but I suppose she has earned it. She still delights in her two walks a day, no matter the weather, even snow. Oh, how she loves the snow! I’m pretty sure she thinks we put it there just for her enjoyment. Well, if only we could, we would – whatever you want! Happy almost birthday, Heidi!