Thursday, November 29, 2012

Roots of the Tall Grass Prairie: Ken, age 54

This is the second in my series:  

After spending an evening with a group whose focus is to preserve the Flint Hills, I decided that is is important to paint a portrait of who we are.......the people who were birthed, breathed and struggled through a lifetime in this most unusual place.  This is not a place where exotic flowers bloom in a generous environment but rather a place where tiny, scrappy flowers push through the flint rock and endure generations of harshness.  Each of us is a strand of the deep roots of the tall grass.  In order to protect our prairie we will need to be aware of each other's strengths and be wary of those bringing plows.

Ken, age 54
Born:  Emporia, Kansas
He is at least the fourth generation of his family in this area.  His parents were from farm families just east of the Flint Hills in the Lebo and Waverly area.

Early Life:  I went to grade school first in Emporia, then Waverly, then Ottawa, then back to Emporia for high school.  My dad was a disabled veteran who died when I was twelve.  We moved from Ottawa after he died and my mom remarried.  In junior high, I went to the river alot (Maris De Cygnes near Ottawa) to goof around with single spring traps, fish and swim.  I started hunting about 7th or 8th grade when I received my mom's shotgun for Christmas.  She had decided to stop hunting because of all the walking.  I started hunting for quail and dove with my uncle.  Before I got married, I went pheasant hunting in Clay Center a few years with a friend from work whose parents owned land there.  And I pheasant hunted with my friend, Phil.  Later, I began pheasant hunting with my father-in-law in the Burns area.  

I'm still here because that's the way I am.  Not that it's a spectacular place to work.  Guess it's where my roots are.  Damn sure don't like big cities so I wouldn't even like Emporia (population 28,000) if I didn't know it.  I like the landscape around here.  (living in) Western Kansas would suck.  No trees.  No ponds.  No creeks.  Creeks are my favorite.  For fishing.  Good to hunt around for turkey or deer.  

I like to look outside and it's open.  The trees.  I like seeing the wildlife.  I like being outside even if I'm doing nothing.  

When I think of the Flint Hills, I think of between here and Wichita.  But its alot bigger than that.  I didn't realize.  I rode up with a friend (to St. Mary's on the highway and then back on the scenic route through Eskridge).  It's beautiful up there.  Unmaintained roads.  Alot of rock.  

With the wind turbines - they are not messy.  Not noisy.  It probably wouldn't bother me.  Already there are oil pumps out there.  I don't know that the wind turbines would matter that much.  But I don't know if they actually work.  Seems like Western Kansas would be better.  We've got to keep something, otherwise we'll have nothing. We'll drive a few miles and be in another city.  

We have no street lights.  On a clear night you can see a million stars.  

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