This is the fourth 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.
Renee, age 54
Born in Emporia, Kansas
At least 5th generation, came in the 1880's.
It's our livelihood! Everybody has always been here. Hopefully, Nathan will get to continue. Both my kids are very passionate about agriculture. But they are going to have to find another way of making a living to be able to come back. Both our children have majored in agriculture and animal science in college.
My grandmother was 12 when she came here from Sweden. My husband's grandpa always told his stories; memories of sitting down and visiting with the native Americans when they came to the house.
I love the openness. Wide open prairie. When you go up on a rise you can see for miles. I love in the Spring, after the burn. Everything is so green, so even. People always ask me if I feel lonely or afraid living here. No, no. Not at all. The more open it is; the less there is around, the more comfortable I am. Yesterday, I was out riding my horse. Not up very high. We're on the eastern edge (of the Flint Hills) so it's not very hilly. But even from there, you could see so far. Probably 10 miles of wide open space. I could see my mom's place, where she was raised from where I live. In the distance I can see the buildings.
I don't think someone can know the Flint Hills until they experience all the seasons. They can't grasp it fully until the live it. Especially the ones who make a living from it. We're protecting it the most yet people think we are harming it the most.
Sometimes I watch people at the grocery store (when we go up to Kansas City). When they pick up that little basket and carry it to put their milk, eggs and bread in. And I wish I could do that just once. When we go, it's at least a fifty mile round trip and I don't like to go. So we stock up for a week, weeks, even a month. You see on t.v., like with Hurricane Sandy..people weren't prepared. They really don't have to think about what they would need for the next few days or a week. And we live like that all the time.