Today’s Flyover People column as seen in The Emporia Gazette:


I’m thankful for my spleen, for its unseen and heretofore unacknowledged work. I’m grateful for taste buds and that my body grows fingernails without the go-ahead from me.

November nudges us to consider what we have around us and to express appreciation. Naturally, family and friends, food, shelter, and clothing are at the top of most everyone’s gratitude list.

But the world around us is full – full of delight, of wonder, of color, of people and places and things that deserve a mention now and then.

Such as avocados. I seldom bring them up them in conversation, but I’m happy to have them in my life – and guacamole, too, should you want to go that far.

Anyway, I’m tossing some things out here, in no particular order, things that brighten my world and perhaps your world as well.

A sense of humor. And I’m doubly thankful that my husband also has a sense of humor. I’m grateful for Dave himself; he’s a pretty good guy.

My friend Wendy. She occasionally bakes scones, makes chai and invites writers to her scone-fragranced home for some writer camaraderie. Word-crafting can be a lonely business and it’s good to mingle once in a while.

Polka dots. I’m not going to wear them, but I’m glad they exist. Fond memories of crisp white circles take me back to the ‘60s.

The walking track at the Emporia Rec Center. I can walk two, three, four miles there and just zone out, enjoy a walking meditation without one worry about getting hit by a car.

Tire quality. I can’t remember the last time I had a flat tire. A good haircut. (Thanks, Clarine.) I appreciate sweet potatoes, baked or otherwise. Lentil and sweet potato stew is good, as are sweet potato fries.

Gloves. And coats. Anything that keeps the cold off of my body is a good thing. And this year, I swear I’m going to buy a stocking cap. Where and when did my last one disappear? And why have I gone for years without one?

Local honey from Bob at the farmers market. And that’s a huge thing to be grateful for – the Emporia Farmers Market. It provides fresh fruits and vegetables that I don’t have to grow myself. I don’t have to till the earth or get down on my knees for weeding. That work is done by people who like to do those things. Here, I bend to my knees to say “Thank you, farmers.”

I’m thankful for you, my readers, who turn to Page 4 on Tuesdays. I’m grateful for The Emporia Gazette and for Kansas Public Radio, which allow me share my words with others.

Locally-owned businesses add so much to a town, each with its own character and charm. Among them: Town Crier Book Store, Bluestem Farm and Ranch Supply, Amanda’s Bakery and Café, and the newly-expanded Studio 11, which just cranked up the energy level in the 600 block of Commercial Street.

I’m grateful for all of the role models I’ve had in my life, fictional and real. Nancy Drew and Major Astro, school teachers, parents, as well as parents of my childhood friends.

Emporia is becoming an art-filled town. I like that. The 800 block of Commercial makes me happy with the new Arts Council building and all that it offers, along with the Granada Theatre and its surrounding stores, the Sweet Granada and the Granada Coffee Company.

I’m glad we have Live in the Lot in the summertime so we can hear local musicians. And it’s neat to have a municipal band that plays in Fremont Park during June and July.

Emporia State University. How lucky we are to have this fine institution in our community with its educational opportunities as well as the cultural and sporting events it provides.

Ponytails, cotton shirts, Brooks running shoes. And dry socks in the winter.

I’m indebted to my friends for their support before and after my father’s passing this summer.

Real people. Kansans are independent and resourceful. And I like that the Kansas horizon stretches out like a Sunday afternoon nap.

Kindness. I love those moments when I happen to observe someone doing a kind deed for another person.

Well, that’s my list for today. What are you thankful for?

Copyright 2011 ~ Cheryl Unruh


  1. “And I like that the Kansas horizon stretches out like a Sunday afternoon nap.” You never run out of good lines, ways of saying things you’ve said before in different words. I’m thankful for that, Cheryl, otherwise you would sound like a broken record. I used “broken record” to inspire tech nostalgia.

  2. We’re ALL so thankful for you, Cheryl, and Dave: you have the words and he is the artist–well, you’re both artists! This is a WONDERFUL

  3. Until now I had never heard anyone give thanks for their spleen. Beautiful.

    Polka dots, why not? I have a black shirt with small white polka dots. Not the big huge ones, just little ones, but I had to have them.

    It would probably be easier for me to name the things I’m *not* especially thankful for. But even mosquitoes are bird and bat food.

    A wonderful column and as usual I am thankful for your ways with words.

  4. I’m grateful to have somebody who expresses themselves as well as you do for a friend and colleague. And I’m grateful that there are people to whom I can happily pass along the avocado from my Mexican meal at Frontera’s. I’m also grateful for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts that was paid for by donated, not public, funds. For grandkids who love me no matter what and try their best to keep me young. I’m just grateful to still be around and in decent health; not everybody from my generation is so blessed.

  5. Cheryl, I’m not sure I’ve ever told you how grateful I am that you and your mom were with my brother in his last moments. He was, I am sure, so comforted to have you there; you were very special to him. So, a bit late for sure, thank you and thank you and thank you…

  6. Aw, thank you, Sandy. You had the best brother. He was smart and funny and told great stories. I loved my Uncle Jay. And it was an honor to be at his bedside. Just wish he didn’t have to take off so soon.

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