Saturday, February 25, 2006

Geographic Existentialism: Flatland

plains sunet : gove county : kansas

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my connection to Kansas. Perhaps this is brought on by my reading of a book called Not Just Any Land. It’s one man's compilation of interviews with writers who have lived in and written about the Central prairies. Maybe that is what has caused my thoughts to wander to the east of here—to the High Plains of Eastern Colorado and beyond to the flatlands of Kansas. But I think my sentimentality for the flatter places would have occurred on its own anyway. The book just intensifies my affections.

So, as I said, I’ve been thinking about Kansas. I’ve been ruminating about the land, and the feelings it evokes within me. I find myself longing to be out there, to be out in the middle of nowhere, where the flatness of the land mimics—no, shapes—the simplicity of the lives and the culture of those who live on it. The Plains are simple, and to me, that is beauty.

I tell people that I miss the flatness of my homeland. My friends here either question the sincerity of my divulgence, or they look at me askance, inwardly flabbergasted at the idea of my missing a place so unassuming and boring. Sometimes, I joke, self-deprecatingly, about how ridiculous I must sound. Missing the flatness—now that’s a hoot… And sometimes I just stare out the window of my car, wishing that Pikes Peak weren’t in the way of the horizon.

I cannot sufficiently verbalize how I feel when I think of the flatlands of Kansas. How do I articulate the essence of the land to which I feel so intimately linked? So often, my mind's media are light and motion and space, not exposition. And so I long for experience. Only personal encounter will do. I want to see the pure, piercing beauty of a prairie pasture set alight by the warm rays of the setting sun, perforated by a stand of cottonwoods, hardy and wise, their heart-shaped leaves trembling in applause of another day well lived.

On the flatlands, beauty is no volunteer. It must be pursued. It reveals itself only to those willing to wait. In time, though, the land becomes a close friend, sustaining and true.


jenni said...

aw, flatness. yes, it is beautiful! raineka and i went out to konza the other day. it was so great to get away and be outside. nature is soooo refreshing. you're a good writer. :) miss you! i hope i get to see you soon!

Ashley said...

I love your writing. If it were in a book, I would have a difficult time putting it down! Check out my blog to see my real comment on your most current posting. Miss you!

Caraf said...

beautiful sentiment... the connection we have to our birthplace...

blueslovinchick said...

Born in Texas -- migrated to the Pacific Northwest and Northern California. I fell in love with the ocean, the snow capped mountains, the rushing rivers, the waterfalls. Coming back to Texas was harsh for me at first. Then, as I learned to appreciate the extreme beauty of the flat land, the gentle rolling hills, the wide open spaces, I realized that God's beauty is everywhere. Note: You are the first person I've seen whose favorite books include "To Kill A Mockingbird". That and the Bible are the two I listed also. That was cool to see. Please keep writing -- it's a real pleasure to read your blog.