Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 1999

Scenes from the countryside

December 1, 1999

We hope that all of our little first-grade helpers and their teachers, Kathleen Riddle and Deniece Wakeman, had a happy Thanksgiving Day. We've heard many comments from our readers who said they appreciated the children's recipes for how to cook a turkey.

Saturday dawned clear and crisp, and Santa in a horse-drawn wagon (provided by John Smith) crossed U.S. Highway 24-40, complete with police escort to halt traffic. In no time at all, the jolly old elf had climbed down from the wagon and was making his way into Community National Bank with a huge toy sack draped over his arm.

Children soon began arriving at the bank, prodded by their parents to approach Santa. Most of them did so hesitantly, shyly. I'm willing to bet that by Christmas morning their shyness will have totally disappeared.

One of the children who visited was Sonny Mangelsdorf, 2, pictured on page 1A, who told Santa he wanted a bulldozer for Christmas. Sounds like a mighty tall order for a lad so small. Sonny also put tractors on his wish list.

"He's a regular little farm boy," his mother said.

Other guests at the bank Saturday morning included Danielle (Boatright) Hayes, Nashville, and Kristie Knox, Lawrence, who were posing with Santa for a photo in the January issue of Kansas City Bridal Magazine.

Hayes, of course, was known for being Miss Kansas USA in 1996 and first runner-up in the national pageant.

Already, homes in the area have put out their Christmas lights. In country and in town the lights glimmer from afar. We'll have to make an evening drive up Hubbel Hill to check out the lights below. Does anybody else remember how Tonganoxie used to decorate Fourth Street with strings of colored lights criss-crossing from pole to pole? That was always a beautiful sight from the top of the hill.

We took a drive to central Kansas during Thanksgiving weekend, nearing our destination going west around sunset. I had almost forgotten how colorful the prairie sunsets are when the light is unencumbered by hills or forests. So many times I wanted to stop and take pictures, but always there was a car following close. Someday perhaps will come a day when there's time to stop, or perhaps we'll just do it anyway. But photographs or not, some of the sights will stay with me forever. There's something unforgettable about the leafless trees, their branches silhouetted by skies streaked horizontal in amber and azure.

Saturday afternoon we stopped by Lindsborg, such a pretty little town with red brick streets and Scandinavian decorations everywhere we looked. It's about a 2 1/2-hour drive from here to Lindsborg a fairly easy trip when the traffic's light and the Birger Sandzen art gallery is worth the trip in itself.

Taking pictures around the county sometimes makes it seem to me like I should pay my boss to let me work here, not the other way 'round. (But let's keep that to ourselves lest the word get out.) One afternoon last week, I went to the country to take a news photo. While out, I came across a flock of wild turkeys feeding in a field of corn stubble. I adjusted the telephoto lens and snapped a few photos just before the birds flapped their wings and lumbered up into the tops of nearby trees.

After that, in rounding the curve of the next hill, scraggly roadside bushes filled with orange berries of bittersweet greeted me. I switched lenses again, this time to take close-ups.

After thinking my photography was finished for the day, I put the camera back in the bag and headed on, only to find a herd of buffalo around the bend. Their silhouettes were too much to resist as I stood by a roadside fence, again using the telephoto.

It's almost a goose-bumpy type of feeling, getting to see so much of the beauty nature has to offer. We travel the world in search of beautiful sights, and, sometimes, when it gets right down to it, there's no place prettier than the place we live.

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