By Natalie Olmsted, Blogger of the Month for July 2015
The political climate in Kansas these days is tumultuous, at best. There are days of frustration, anger, and disappointment as we fight amongst ourselves for what we believe is right, and struggle against our current government whom many feel have alienated the majority of Kansans. It’s very difficult to find the shine in Kansas.
But, it’s on those days filled with exasperation that I pause and look up and look around. There is something about Kansas and Kansans. Kansas skies can be endless blues of possibility, lowered grays of frost-tipped resilience, or furrowed blacks of trepidation. And at night, well, there is no description worthy of a Kansas sky filled with stars. Some say Kansas is too flat and boring. I say Kansas is vast, its horizon unrestrained, and this is never more apparent than at sunrise and sunset.
No, we have no mountains or oceans, but the reflection of an afternoon sun off the wave of harvest-ready wheat is spectacular. And, should you experience the Flint Hills at sunset, or stand in a field completely surrounded by a limitless tallgrass green, you will understand the strange attachment we Kansans have with the land that is our home state.
Kansans have an essence which combines an appreciation of land, perseverance of spirit, a drive to flourish, a commitment to others, and the desire to look up and around. We may have our bad days, we may have our selfish moments, but overall I believe Kansans believe in all that shines in our state, which is why we fight so hard to preserve it.
I confess, in my younger days I yearned to leave, and I did … but, I returned. As it is for some, the shine of Kansas was not conspicuously evident and clear. I needed to rub at it, like buffing a piece of grandmother’s silverware, something you inherited and knew of its history, were told of its worth, but just couldn’t see for yourself. Now, my Kansas shines with such brilliance, not even the worst proposed or enacted legislation can tarnish. I can always see my reflection.
So on those days you’re feeling a little low on Kansas, take a moment. Look up at a sky that is as beautiful from a Target parking lot in Wichita as it is from the front porch of a house in Argonia.
And look around, remembering we are just another source of light, a reflection of this land that is a reflection of ourselves.
Natalie Olmsted is a native Kansan and advocate for her hometown of Wichita. Her blog, Mermaid of the Plains, touches on life in the ICT and her love of family, sports, Wichita State University, bicycles, and beer (not necessarily in that order). When she isn’t working at WSU or cheering at Shocker basketball games, you can find her riding her cruiser bicycle in the Delano District, sipping a craft beer at The Anchor, or sitting with her husband beneath their “Lantern Therapy Tree.” She has published two short stories from her collection, The North End, and is working on two novels. And yes, she often thinks of herself as a mermaid, albeit a little landlocked.