Kansas: An Ode to the Prairie

Today is Kansas Day. My home state was founded January 29 1861. Most people think of the state as dull, boring, flyover country. But those of us who grew up there are keenly aware of its understated beauty. On Facebook and other social media today, I saw so many of my fellow Kansans posting about our homestate’s birthday. It’s truly a unique place that few people undersand unless they’ve lived there and experienced it. It’s difficult to articulate why the state is so beautiful for many of us natives. This beautiful passage, however, gives you a glimpse of why so many of us native Kansans love our home state.

To have slept the night under the skies while prairie night-winds slipped past on tiptoe as fearing to wake you; when the dews were lighting their lamps on every grass-blade for the pageant of the morning; when the prairie-wolf flung his hoidenish voice out in the quiet sky, while the smells of prairie and sky were so delicious as to render Arabian perfumes garish things; with solemn sky exalted over you, with you prairie bed stretching from sky to sky and quite big enough to stretch on–well, than this no bed-room is nobler, nor is any so noble. To lie and drift to dreams slowly, like a receding night-bird’s voice, into the prairie and the sky of sleep; and the prairie has had its way. The prairie is the sea of the land.”

It was written by Bishop William Alfred Quayle in his book The Prairie and the Sea (pg 49). Bishop Quayle was a Kansan. He attended Baker University and later served as the school’s president. He became a well-known Methodist Bishop and writer. A lot of his work focused on nature and poetry, and the beauty of the world as a reflection of God’s beauty and power. His fondness for Kansas and it’s prairies is clear from this passage. It reflects the feeling so many of us have about the Flint Hills and Tallgrass Prairies. There is beauty in the openness, the sweeping winds, and the never ending horizons. I’m proud to be a Kansan.

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