Archive for Wednesday, February 9, 2000

Past and present, here and there

February 9, 2000

Wednesday morning, members of the Tonganoxie Historical Society invited me out to the site to watch the cement being poured on the floor of the north side of the old dairy barn. With the temperature lodged at 10 degrees and the ground still covered with snow, I postponed the trip as long as I could, hoping the sun would warm things up. But I finally braved the weather, and it turned out to be a most pleasant visit, thanks in part to the woodburning stove in the back room, coffee, conversation and Earl Parson's homemade cookies. One of the nice aspects of my job is that it provides almost unlimited opportunity to get out, meet people and see what they do. Besides, I'm always ready for a coffee break.
It's really interesting that members of the historical society have the vision and foresight that they do. The prospect of renovating the schoolhouse and church, which by the way, they have done beautifully, would seem insurmountable to many of us. And now the members have started renovating the old dairy barn which eventually will be a museum complete with four milking bays and other historical gems. I admire their perseverance almost as much as their handiwork.

A news article about Ted Turner buying the 35,350-acre Z-Bar Ranch southwest of Medicine Lodge reminded me of Sunday drives not too many years ago. When I lived in St. John, that was a favorite weekend trip, about 50 miles from home. First we'd stop at the Trails End Junk Store in Belvedere, the last stop before the road turns into rangeland, and then we'd head out into the hills. Red hills, that is, mesas places where you can climb to the top and see what the world looked like a hundred years ago. It's beautiful country there in its own way with its dry red sandy soil, scrubby trees, tumbleweeds and the constant hum of the wind sweeping across the border from Oklahoma. Locals told us that gypsum is mined in that area, thus the nickname of the Gyp Hills. That part of Kansas, as well as the area where we live around Tonganoxie, certainly dispels the notion that Kansas is flat.

Life around the house has been busy, trying to keep up with the kids, work and all. Saturday morning, youngest son and his friend visited the thrift shop and came home with $2 worth of more things to pick up, among them a blender. Then their fun started. First with making orange julius and next to buying fresh produce pineapple, coconut and kiwi fruit to make a new concoction. It didn't turn out to be very good, they said. I took them at their word.

Have you noticed how many children go to school without wearing coats? It seems that hooded sweatshirts, unzipped of course for the fashionable carefree look, have taken the place of warm clothes. Is this a fashion statement, or do these kids just not feel the cold? At our house, youngest son always explains, "But I do have a coat it's in my locker at school." And of course, every once in a while, usually on locker cleanup day, he fills my car with a half-dozen coats and jackets.

We've been chasing sunsets, enticed by the sunny weekend and icy view of the Leavenworth County State Fishing Lake. Saturday we were a few minutes late and missed the setting sun, but the skies were rosy. So, Sunday evening we arrived earlier but the skies were absent of the red glow of the night before. I set up the camera on the tripod anyway, put the setting to manual and experimented with bracketing the exposures. Haven't seen the results yet, but the quiet times outdoors reminded me that every minute of getting out to take pictures, whether it be of children at school or of country sights at sunset, is a minute for which to be thankful.

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