Thursday, June 19, 2008

Areas of Chapman in Floodplain

The Abilene Reflector Chronicle has an article today which we heard discussed by several during our short trip into the city on Tuesday. How unfortunate for the disaster to be followed by this news.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Chapman on Tuesday June 17, 2008

Yesterday we spent the day checking the fields that our nephew farms for Dan's family. We filled a small trailer twice and this was about four miles east of Chapman.

We found personal pictures, one an old one probably taken in the twenties or earlier and the other more recent. Both appeared to have been in an album.

We went into the city itself and saw the total destruction. It was sobering. Somehow, I feel disrespectful posting pictures of destroyed homes. It reminds me of pictures of people hurt in an accident. I feel they need a respectful distance.

Having said that, here is a picture of the auditorium at the high school. We all have fond memories of Class Night in this facility. It's like it exploded.

I guess we all should think of material things as if at any time they could be lifted in the air and dropped at will here and there. Other family members, friends and even strangers are important when a disaster like this happens. Things become less important.

The composite picture is probably from the high school. I am sure the school district will be asking each graduating class to provide pictures for their archives as it appears all was lost. Tin, fiberglass insulation, wood and metal siding, and shingles were plentiful, some with nails still in them. The doily appears handmade. Even though they say that things like this should be destroyed because of the fiberglass insulation, I might wash and take this along with the pictures to the collection point. It might mean a great deal to someone.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2008

Is it diamonds in the grass? Yes, only it's dew drops at sunrise. Sparkling prairie and occasional wildflowers seem undisturbed the morning after. I peek out of our modern covered wagon, see empty tents, gently waving flags and remember.

Symphony in the Flint Hills greeted 6,000 visitors with a miracle of sunshine and a gentle breeze on Saturday, June 14, 2008, at the Lakeview Ranch south of Council Grove. Horseback riders ever willing to visit and tell about their horse and life on the prairie greeted us on the walk to the concert site.

As we arrive, we are surprised to see Bruce and Susie Taylor, lifetime Chapman area residents. They are enjoying a day away from the traumatic past few days at home. Although they personally did not have damage, members of their family did. It was good for them to talk and us to listen.

We still have time for three seminars before our volunteer duties.

Luther Pepper, a member of the Kaw Nation, tells stories of the early Kaw/Kanza Indian presence in the Flint Hills. Kansa means “south wind people.” The men hunted and the females cultivated, harvested and stored. They called the prairie their home from the 1600s until 1854 when they were moved south to Indian Territory now Oklahoma.

Leo Oliva is a long time expert on the Santa Fe Trail. On September of 1821, William Bicknell and four other people set out from Franklin Missouri with goods to sell at Santa Fe. They make a 2,000% profit and thus the beginning of the well-known commerce trail established centuries earlier by prehistoric Indians.

Seminars in the Butterfly Milkweed Tent feature families who have deep roots in the Flint Hills. Their love of the land, cattle and open spaces is obvious. Modern ranching is computerized and complicated. I did not hear one panel member say they wished to do anything else.

We eat a traditional picnic dinner of barbecued beef and pork and all the fixings. Many others tote in picnics and eat on blankets spread on the hillside.

The concert is beautiful. The vastness of the open prairie provides the perfect backdrop for a symphony, which at its loudest speaks to thunder and softest the song of Bob White Quail and Meadowlark. After intermission, we notice wranglers slowly herding cattle over a knoll. Horses and riders hold them in place as the music continues. Then, as Overture to The Cowboy (1980) by John Williams begins, they herd the cattle over the slope and through a break in the hill behind the orchestra. The cowboy music with the visual makes me tearful.

As if on cue by the conductor of the Kansas City Symphony, Damon Gupton, the sun slowly slips down over the hills at the last note of the concert.

Most packed blankets and chairs and headed home. We opted to watch the stillness set in over the prairie then headed for the star gazing area to look at an almost full moon and stars. I was able to see Saturn’s rings, a thrill.

Earlier in the day, Peg Jenkins, a Flint Hills rancher, eloquently told her thoughts about living her entire life in the prairie. “There is sacredness in the grasslands. You can see God. When I was a girl, I dreamed I would ride to the top of every hill to see what was on the other side. I have never had any desire to do anything else”

Thank you, Peg, for sharing your prairie…and its diamonds.

Symphony in the Flint Hills 2008

Click on photo for slide show.