WHETHER TO WEATHER THE WEATHER......OR NOT
Some peeks at our time here in America's heartland
WHETHER TO WEATHER THE WEATHER
I am in the throes of preparing for my first trip back to California in 8 months; one which is the beginning of an end….the end of this stage; this step in this sequence called life.
It has been a whirlwind of change; adjustment and acceptance. A complete 180 from the life and environment of my former home; the one to which I am returning. So many things have come into play during my 4 ½ years here. My experiences while living here; all the unexpected, delightful, and challenging as well as heartbreaking and disappointing events have united to make this seem like I’ve lived a lifetime in SE Kansas.
There are the pluses! Beautiful unencumbered acres, even miles, of pristine field and stream. Freedom like no other I have known. Movement as free as a leaping leopard.
In the past I felt as I believe a caged animal must feel. So little room to move without resistance. Structures blocking out the view of the landscape. Objects, large and cumbersome, blocking the path of life. Harried and frenzied rushing to and fro, so little open space and stop and go traffic. As our forward motion was spent in jump starts and pedal crunching stops. I’d look over at Al, while we were (attempting to) drive and say,
“This is not natural! We are animals trapped in a maze! We’re not supposed to stop and go , stop and go like this. Our progress is constantly being stifled!” ” He’d nod his head as we slowly crawled the 4 miles from town to home. Those 4 miles felt like 24!
THAT WAS THEN…THIS IS NOW
Well, as is often said, “the grass is always greener…” After spending a half decade here, I'm looking over the fence at my neighbor's 'grass.' We’re on our way back to the nerve racking, reflex challenging congestion of my much missed and very yearned for, N. California, San Francisco Bay Area.
And, I’m excited! Exhilarated! Impatient! Can’t wait to go home! As I pack, assemble and arrange, my thoughts give in to the difficult days I’ve had along with the more pleasurable and positive aspects of this land I’m about to leave.
It’s almost mid June now, and the weather in Independence, Kansas is killer hot! I mean, 100 degree HOT! And humid! This part, I don’t like…I’m a ‘put your sweater on’ in the evening woman. Give me a reason to cuddle up with my cats; a good book, a dear companion…I’ll take it! Here, “no, thanks!” It’s too damn hot! I wake in the middle of the night and it’s 85 degrees outside and the same inside unless, of course, I give in to the AC, close up all the windows and doors and turn my home into an ice castle. And a prison!
But, if possible…
I throw all the windows and screened doors open any time the weather allows. I love it! The wind is one of my favorite elements; its unbridled, uncontrollable strength. Wind whistles through the open windows, clatters and chatters through the Cottonwood trees just outside the upstairs bedroom window. Soft breezes rustle up the stairway and into the landing, finding a way through open bedroom doors as it dances over bed covers and out available passageways. The sound, the movement, the way it feels on my face and body; as it caresses me to sleep. Like a lover with a soft touch ; at other times, strong and firm.
I’ll miss this part of prairie life.
Lightning storms! “Come watch the wall cloud approach!” my friend urges.
We stand in the front yard with a complete 360 view. From the southwest a storm approaches . The severe weather radio is blaring an alert of ‘severe weather warning‘…coupled with ‘tornado watch!’ We know, if the radio alarm sounds again, the ‘watch’ will have turned into a ‘warning.’
I love danger! I love being on the edge of potential harm. This sounds crazy! But, true.
(In deference to Joplin, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Kansas..so much loss; the floods, tornados which have ravaged lives and ruined entire communities…no, I am not talking about this type of danger….and I pray for those who have and are going through such tragic times. Please understand this.)
We run out to the south lawn to watch the impending storm approach. Lightning is flashing, the wind is increasing in velocity, thunder claps are growing louder and louder and rain is beginning to stream at us from a sideways approach. Almost immediately, the front is upon us, swirling around, lifting small branches, leaves and our clothing. Everything is in an uproar! I see an instant of bright light above and nearby and begin to count, ’one hippopotamus, two hippopotamus, three hippopotamus..” and “WHAM!” the thunder resounds! I start my count again…one hippo…“whack” several lightning bolts hit so close you can hear the ‘snap’ before the ‘KABOOM’ of thunder. Astounding! Now, the rain is driving harder and the wind is screaming all around us as the sky is filled with flashing, pulsing light!
“Run! Run to the porch!” “We’re getting soaked!” But, it’s a warm, inviting rain. Sometimes, I stand there, anyway, allowing the tepid, pounding drops to cleanse my heart and soul!
I recall, prior to having lived here, while viewing movie scenes which included the drama of severe weather, thinking, “it isn’t like that!. Thunder and lightning don’t role and flash unendingly!”
Well…how wrong was I? those set designers and special effects people know their profession and they’re doing a fantastic job of replicating actual lightning/severe weather events. Perfectly!
Coming from sunny, mostly calm and predictable California…where severe weather rarely strikes, I had no idea how often such weather occurs elsewhere. Traveling, visiting and passing through many areas; driving through inclement weather and the occasional thunderstorm had not prepared me for heartland extremes.
But, I love it! And, I’ll miss it.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND MEMORIES
There are those whom I will never see again. It’s true. And, it’s sad. Friends I’ve made who, I am certain, will not venture my way to the West Coast. Wonderful individuals I’ve been fortunate to work with, whom I wouldn’t call close friends but, just knowing that they are around had meant the world to me. Good hearted souls who care passionately and are selfless in their day to day lives. We’ve passed one another in this event called life; we’ve touched one another in ways which might seem insignificant but are, actually truly meaningful. Simple, every day folks; kind, truthful and loyal. Some met by mere happenstance, others through common interests. The population of heartland America differs in so many ways from the denizens of other towns, cities and states I’ve called home. Because there is not much to distract here, the locals have learned to ‘make due.’ A microcosm of larger areas with a dash of humility, a sprinkling of downright honesty and a hearty serving of pride. Small things are big here. Concerted effort is made to create lively recreation where, most people might think, nothing of real interest exists. Not true.
Within the year in this small town, there are three major celebrations primarily comprised of volunteers. Annual events which draw record breaking crowds. Neewollah (please read my Hub, Neewollah is Halloween spelled backwards), the Inge Festival and LHOP…Little House on the Prairie. That’s right…this is where it all began. The Verdigris river runs through here and the original site of the series was located a mere 10 miles from my downtown home. There are other, smaller events which enjoy a large audience, too. This little town, U.S.A. is thriving in “how to” exuberance.
I remember the first kitty we saved here. A small kitten, really. A baby alone in our huge pole barn in the country. “Pretty Boy” first showed up with two other kitties. Over time and with much coaxing, he grew comfortable with us. His two companions came and went, exploring and hunting the area but Pretty Boy was far to small; a mere kitten. It took months but, finally we were successful in carefully capturing him. Pretty Boy will, eventually, come to California. We’ll be moving the brood in separate groups. BTW, his companions, Little Girl and Yellow Guy were eventually captured, too. Sadly, both tested positive for Feline Leukemia which cut their sweet lives short but. they had love and comfort and wonderful lives before passing. They, along with many others, are buried in our little sanctuary plot for all animals, large and small.
Our “Party Pals.” Over the years, we’ve met some wild and crazy people dubbed, appropriately enough, “The Wild Kids.” We’ve enjoyed many a wonderful evening out with this crew! Lots of parties at one another’s homes; lots of gatherings, many birthday celebrations and Friday night dinners. In my entire life, I’ve never been so social. Here, it became second nature for a very long time. I shall notice the absence of these friends.
Well, I must get back to packing, choosing, discarding and letting go. This has been an exercise in just a few passing thoughts. I made a comment to friends that I must ’get over’ my writers’ block. Then another comment caused me to consider the weather. It hasn’t actually worked out as I initially imagined but. What the heck! Here it is..just random thoughts to share with you.