It’s so easy to see how it could happen.
The land is so completely flat. There aren’t the rises in the distance like the hills bordering farmland in Wisconsin, where you sense that the original settlers decided to stop cutting down trees and let some be a haven or protection. There is no protection out here.
It isn’t because settlers cut down all the trees. There are no trees. Other things take the place of the beauty of trees. The wheat. It’s soft, almost floral looking, the muted purple and amber. And it does wave, just like in the song. The sorghum covering miles and miles like soft curls on a baby’s head. The sky. I wonder if the people of Kansas know what a big sky they have.
We stop on the side of the road several times so I can take pictures. I am always trying to capture the vista but it really can’t be done. I remember the instruction to have something in the foreground in a vista shot and so I get close to the barbed wire fence and try to capture the beat-up wooden fence post but the photos all have the same message. The land is vast out here. And if plants weren’t there to hold the earth down, it would fly away in a bad wind, many bad winds. I think of that, looking on the house on the prairie. I imagine doing the dishes and looking out the window, waiting for catastrophe and hoping we were all ready.
I’m glad to be here, able to see a part of the country with so much history, a place so foreign to me and so unvisited. We haven’t seen an RV for hundreds of miles. Rolling along these long flat roads, our truck feels like freedom to me, like we could go anywhere and have all we need inside the truck. Water, our clothes, blankets, sandwiches, and a new package of Oreos. We could be fine out here on the road for a while.
We drove from Wichita, Kansas, to Guymon, Oklahoma today. We ate our lunch in a gazebo at a city park in Kingman, then drove down a dirt road to find the Hoosier Cemetery but ran into a twenty-foot wide pond in the road causing us to turn around. But first, we stopped to take a picture of two brown horses grazing near a fence. Both of them looked up and trotted over, their eyes and faces covered with flies. I wanted to swat them away but it wasn’t my place.
In Liberal, Kansas, we were the last people of the day to stop at the Dorothy’s House and Land of Oz where a high school girl in pigtails and a red sparkly shoes took us on a tour that included her reenactment of the Wizard of Oz story as we walked through the fabulously decorated rooms of a small warehouse. Then, because they opened the gift shop for us, I bought a pair of $5 pair of Dorothy’s red shoes earrings.
Our day ends in Guymon, Oklahoma, where the sunset makes all things beautiful. Just like at home.