Waves of a Different Kind

I live in Kansas, right smack in the middle of the United States. The nearest ocean is the Atlantic, nearly 1200 miles to the east. The Pacific is 1800 miles west and would take approximately 25 hours to drive. I am understandably overjoyed when our travels include a trip to the ocean. The sight of the sea flattened across the horizon thrills me, especially if bordered by rocky cliffs that sparkle with remnants of the sun. I watch as foamy waves meet the shore, consuming every crevice in its path. I try to memorize the sound of endless space – the cry of the seagulls and the breaking surf as it crashes over and over and over again.

When memories of the sea begin to fade, something very similar takes its place. Here in Kansas, miles and miles of land, not sea, flattens across the horizon, its vastness interrupted by an occasional rock formation, farm silo, or grove of trees rising up from the banks of a stream. Prairie grass sways in a gentle breeze, creating waves of a different kind, while the warmth of the sun brightly glows on fields of golden grain. Here, the sound of endless space is filled with near-quiet bliss: the mellow moo of a grazing cow and the distant honk of snow geese as they migrate back and forth to wherever it is they go.

Be happy with what you have… make it your source of inspiration!

For Lens-Artists Challenge: Inspiration

The Quiet Battle

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We left home several years ago in the wee hours of a January morning to attend a 10:00 funeral that was 3 1/2 hours away. On the drive we passed a beautiful farm where the morning fog was just beginning to lift. Last week we made the same trip for yet another funeral and we passed the farm again, but this time it was a bright summer’s day. I took both photos through the car window with my cell phone. Same farm, different season, years apart!

The following is a re-post of a story I wrote the first time I saw the farm:

THE QUIET BATTLE

Morning fog invades a lovely Kansas farm in the pre-dawn hours of a clear winter day. The fog will lie low for a spell, transforming rest into stubborn courage for the fight that looms ahead: an inevitable skirmish between Fog and Sun.

As Fog hunkers down, it blankets winter wheat and hugs the stubble of last year’s corn which lay dying in the field. It settles itself along the fence that separates the farm in stately fashion and it laces haunting fingers through the trees. It covertly surrounds the silo, the barn, the shed; and forms a luminous halo around the single light left burning to ward off possible dangers tempted to lurk in shadowed corners.

At sunrise, the battle begins. Fog is brave and refuses to yield, but the fight does not rage for long. Sun is a strong and formidable enemy. Flanked on all sides with no place to hide, Fog is swiftly defeated. Forced to surrender, a virtual white flag is waved as it retreats.

When the farm is fully bathed in golden rays, you would never suspect that a quiet battle had ever taken place here.

A Turn of the Crank

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Deep into ever-dimming light

where dampness dwells on the walls

of what seems a bottomless well,

sinks an old wooden bucket

attached by heavy rope

to a crank turned with ease

by his big strong hands.

Down, down in the murky shadows

the bucket magically fills

with water before he hauls it

out of the darkness and into the light.

The bucket arrives full of clean, clear water

glistening in the sun where the reflection

casts playful spots upon my face.

A ladle hangs, as it always does,

from a hook beside the crank

which he dutifully dips into the water.

Carefully, as though the contents were a prize,

he brings the tarnished ladle to my lips

for a sip of sparkling cold refreshment.

This is how I remember it… decades ago on Grandpa’s farm.

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Crank

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tour Guide

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.

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A Kansas farm draped in morning fog

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.

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The Missouri River – dressed for Fall

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.

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The JC Nichols Fountain – one of over 200 fountains in the Kansas City Metro area

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.

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The Plaza Lights – a Christmas tradition in Kansas City

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.

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Union Station and the Kansas City Skyline

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Tour Guide (This week we were challenged to act as a Tour Guide and show you where we live)

PS – If you’ve not read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  by L. Frank Baum, or seen the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, then this post may not make much sense to you.

My In-Between Life

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I grew up an “in-between-er”. Not because of family order – there were only two of us, my sister and me – but because of where we lived. Our house was in the country, but not on a farm and just over half an hour from the nearest city.

I did not identify with city girls who strutted either uptown or downtown and seemed to know the difference. They tottered the sidewalk in shoes I could never have owned; my father would have somehow made me feel less of a person for wanting them, and I shudder to think what he might have done had I actually come home with a pair.

I wasn’t comfortable with farm girls either. I had no daily chores that required me to wake at dawn and find a bucket for feed or a basket for eggs. I never had to butcher my best friend. My summers didn’t include a harvest except to witness it. When the fields I passed to and from school every day began to sprout green, I couldn’t tell the difference between wheat and barley, but what did it matter? I was allergic to it all, anyway!

I must have spoken to my grandmother at some point in time about my “in-between-ness”. She was my favorite person to spend time with when I was young. I remember her telling me that in-between was simply the best place in the world to be. It was, after all, the place between yesterday and tomorrow, the place between hello and goodbye, and the place she most wanted me to be: between her arms.

My response to today’s one-word prompt: Strut