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Moving Toward Spring

March 12th, 2013 at 5:27 pm

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

Strawberry pie – Hays House


For months our sky had been holding its breath. Finally in late February the sky exhaled, and a huge cloud of white flakes fell to earth. We found ourselves in deep snow, which is just what we needed, but it put Kansas on hold for a few days.

Here in Emporia, we received two heavy snows, more than a foot of white stuff, in back-to-back storms. Since that’s the only snowfall we’ve had all season, I thought of it as “All Winter in a Week,” recalling the title of Ray Bradbury’s fabulous short story, “All Summer in a Day.”

Maybe it’s because snow storms have been rare lately, but I enjoyed shoveling the sidewalk and driveway. It’s a good and mighty workout. And it’s a way to get outside of the house when you can’t go anywhere else.

During the course of those two storms, except to shovel snow up and down the block, I didn’t leave the house much at all for about a week. But good things happened indoors. I got caught up on a year’s worth of bookkeeping, prepared tax information for the accountant, and cleaned off my desk. I put my shredder to good use. Those are tasks I always dread, but being trapped by the snow made them easier somehow.

After that week, I was ready to escape. It was time to get out on the road again, so I contacted a writer friend, Lou Ann Thomas, who lives in Pottawatomie County. She and I met in Council Grove the next day.

While driving north on the Americus Road, I noticed cattle with their heads to the ground, making a meal of the hay a farmer had rolled out carpet-style for them. The tromping around of the cattle had turned that part of the field from snow to mud.

Roads were clear and some of the snow had melted already, but white was still the word of the day. White pastures, white ditches, white sky. If you’re hungry for color like I am this time of year, Kansas in winter is not the place to find it. Since November, we’ve been living in a dusty, straw-colored world.

During the past few months, the Flint Hills have looked so…dry, as if the land’s life and energy had long since evaporated. It seemed as if we were waiting for our bowl of dust to arrive.

Usually we can depend on emerald fields of winter wheat for a splash of color on the cold landscape, but in this drought, the wheat has looked anemic, a sad yellow-green shade. So on an overcast day the only place to find a hit of color around here is to train your eyes on the highway’s yellow stripes. We find our joys where we can.

I met Lou Ann at the Hays House in Council Grove for the Sunday buffet with its delicious fried chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and salad greens. And, desperate for a taste of spring, I couldn’t resist the strawberry pie.

She and I talked for quite a while over mashed potatoes and pie. Our writing paths and topics are similar and we have a lot in common.

When we’re on the same wavelength with another person, especially when creative topics are being discussed, our own energy level rises. As we listen to the other one speak, creative thoughts expand. But the combined energy here is more than that; when we hear ourselves speak, when we express our thoughts and ideas out loud to another person, our own projects take on a new shape and significance. And so it’s incredibly helpful to have someone to bounce ideas off of in any creative endeavor.

There’s a process and growth with everything in our lives – with friendships, with writing, with the seasons. The world is fluid, in continual motion.

Season-wise, we’re moving through an interstice, that gap between winter and spring, between snow and mud, between neutral colors and pastels. Soon, spring will take hold, daffodils will bloom, and green will return to our beloved Flint Hills.

Copyright 2013 ~ Cheryl Unruh


columns, seasons, small towns, vittles

  1. Wendy
    March 12th, 2013 at 19:18 | #1

    What a fitting way to capture the interlude of snowstorms and the Kansas longing for spring. Beautiful voice for the seasons! I can tell you are in your writing room–the state 🙂

  2. Karla K
    March 12th, 2013 at 19:45 | #2

    Soon, spring will take hold, daffodils will bloom, and green will return to our beloved Flint Hills.

    Soon is not soon enough for me. I want daffodils, hyacinths and tulips! I need color now! I lived in the south too long where winter pansies lifted my spirits everyday.

  3. Flips
    March 12th, 2013 at 20:16 | #3


  4. March 12th, 2013 at 22:31 | #4

    Thanks, Wendy! Big open room. 🙂

    Thank you, Karla! I am ready for spring, too.

    Thanks Flips! As always.

  5. heineken160
    March 13th, 2013 at 00:22 | #5

    This was a great opening, Cheryl. “For months our sky had been holding its breath. Finally in late February the sky exhaled, and a huge cloud of white flakes fell to earth.”

  6. March 14th, 2013 at 17:50 | #6

    You had me at the first sentence! Wow, what a beautiful introduction and story. All the right elements – Kansas weather, Lou Ann Thomas, the Hays House and the irresistible Strawberry Pie! Thank you Cheryl.