Archive for Wednesday, September 22, 1999

Observations on countryside

September 22, 1999

He was just a boy sitting in a chair at the corner of his front yard. His father sat on a bench nearby, and a metal stand in front of the boy held a book of Broadway musicals. The boy gripped the mouthpiece of an alto saxophone between his lips and began to play. Music flowed down the small-town street, disappearing into the hum of crickets, the noise of passing cars.

He was new to the saxophone, this husky boy of shiny blond curls. Every now and then, he hit a wrong note or didn't breathe quite right and the instrument protested with a squawk. His father, a middle-age man (also of shiny blond curls), gazed proudly upon his son as if to say, "You're giving me the best present in all the world."

I stood there throughout the song, taking in the freshness of the occasion a familiar melody a father and son spending quiet, simple time together the coolness of a September night. I wished at that moment that I had carried a camera on my evening walk, so I could share the sight with my readers.

It had been a stressful day too little sleep, too many pressures but in the twilight the tension melted. I could see the world again in a better perspective as if looking down from a place high above and not being able to hear or see the rattlings of our human frailities.

The song finished and compliments paid to the musician, my walk continued, but with a more relaxed step. Even in the dimness of the evening light, the world seemed brighter. Tonight would be good, tomorrow would be better.

And it was.

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  • Have you ever been to Springdale? A meeting was scheduled there that I planned to attend last week. Only when I got there, I learned it had been canceled, and yes, sometimes the newspaper is the last to know. But I discovered something new anyway that some of the prettiest countryside in Kansas can be found about 12 miles north of Tonganoxie.
    I had consulted a county map before leaving the office. Springdale was way up there, tucked into the upper third of Leavenworth County. A long bumpy drive, I thought. But wait. By the time I reached Dempsey Road, I couldn't believe how beautiful the land was. Rolling forested hills, streams, flat grassy areas. I had always thought the landscape of Tonganoxie to be the prettiest in the state. Now, at least to me, it had a rival.

The Springdale Friends Church was too much to resist. Morning light cast distinct shadows on the building, an old cemetery on a high meadow rested near the church. I stopped to take photographs. I nearly picked up a hitchhiker at the church a little brown dachsund that hopped into my car and curled up on the floorboard. Yes, even the critters are congenial in Springdale.

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  • I must apologize for the confusion about the school calendar correction in The Mirror last week. I failed to double check my facts. If you have questions about the dates on the calendar, please call the school. I had ignored one of the standing rules of journalism. As Ted Frederickson tells his reporting students at Kansas University, "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."

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  • Regarding the southern half of our county, Tom Wurdeman, chief engineer for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, told me last week that the KTA has been studying the feasibility of building a turnpike entrance directly south of Tonganoxie.

"We do have a model of that study and we will be talking to Leavenworth County and to the City of Tonganoxie in the very near future," Wurdeman said.

A turnpike entrance and exit of our own would most likely serve as the largest catalyst for growth this city has ever had.

But as our city administrator Chris Eppley said, the growth will be good only if it occurs in a controlled manner that is aesthetically pleasing, and includes well-planned street structure for traffic movement, as well as changes in the sewer and water treatment systems.

"If we can do these things as a community, then yes it will be positive," Eppley said. "Not easy, but positive."

Or as the British philosopher/mathematician Bertrand Russell would have put it, "Change is inevitable but progress is not."

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