From a certain point of view, the summer was not kind to Kansas. Where lawns were given up to the heat (many on city water couldn’t afford to run their sprinklers), brown swaths of turf keep the dirt from blowing. Lots empty of homes look to have been taken over by native plants. Well, they might not actually be native, but they are hardy and adaptable. Plants you’d expect to see in places more desert than prairie. And I know that Kansas is no longer, for all intents and purposes, a prairie, but it retains that essence. And since I’ve been home, it feels as though the land is trying mightily hard to take back its own. Nothing personal, of course. It just knows how to adapt. It has seen centuries—some lush, some dry. It knows what to do when water is scarce. It never forgets how to bloom come spring or fall. Fall blooms in Kansas can be golden.
A popular saying around here: “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.” Not particularly original, but who needs originality when you’ve got drama? Two days ago, the temperature hit near 85 with a strong south wind blowing through up to 40 mph. By yesterday evening, it was in the forties, the wind had shifted (but not abated) to the north, and it was snowing in Goodland (northwestern Kansas). I had to drag Gabriel and his cousins Charlotte and Isaiah back from the park because their little hands were turning ice cube and I could be buffeted no more.
And here’s a funny observance, maybe a gross generalization, but interesting nonetheless. Kansas’ weather-drama seems to have a direct connection to its inhabitants. Granted, I’ve only lived in Ohio a year, but its natives just seem so sensible. Fully human, yet not prone to the drama I seem to meet at every turn in Kansas. Garrison Keillor makes the same sort of connections between Lake Wobegonites and Minnesotan winters. I think my husband would agree that I’m the most dramatic person he knows in Canton. Not counting Jonah. But how can you not count Jonah Caedmon, who incidentally loves Kansas intensely, having coincidentally been conceived there.
A sort of Kansas photo-journal follows, documenting G and my travels this last week.