How could it be anything but great when the destination was Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Store, and the reward was one Hot Fudge Sundae with pecans for me and one Pecan Caramel Fudge Sundae for Mary Ann?

We spent three or four hours mostly on the road, country roads, traveling nearly 150 miles by the time we returned home.  Madness, you say?  Not really.  While the destination was great, the trip was at least as great.

I am not much of a reader and, as a result, not a writer.  I envy those who have the vocabulary to write descriptively in a way that gives the reader the feeling of being there, experiencing the sights and smells, the layered depths of panoramas that could never be captured in a two dimensional medium.

I am at a loss to describe just how beautiful the day was, the fields and flowers and farms, the colors and textures of this Eastern Kansas landscape.  Between our fifteen years in Kansas City and the almost fourteen years here, this is just about the strangest summer we have ever experienced.  Throughout the summer there have been only a half dozen or so days that were the usual impossibly hot days.  Other than those few days, there have been comfortably warm days and cool nights punctuated every few days with a rain and thunder showers.

The plant life now looks a little like what we saw on our trip to Alaska a number of years ago.  Things are giant.  The Kansas Sunflowers tower over the fields.  The Soybeans look like a different crop entirely they are so tall and deep green.  The corn is tall and only now transitioning into its dry phase, readying for harvest.  Some of the corn fields are still green.

There are huge round bales of hay everywhere.  The fields that have been cut and the bales removed are now that bright green again as in Ireland.  It is as if time has just folded over and spring has become intertwined with fall.  The Sumac is beginning to change color.  The Milo is that rich dark copper color, while that bright fresh green of spring is everywhere in between.

Then there are the flowers — fields of them.  Everywhere that isn’t tilled ground, cut pasture, someone’s lawn, buildings or roads there are masses of Kansas Sunflowers, yellow blossoms of all shapes and sizes and kinds, blue wildflowers, purple thistles in blossom, white Snow on the Mountain and other white flowers, all mixed together with the dark tones of mature weeds and grasses fully in seed.  It has always intrigued me that in nature, colors that would never be put together by anyone aware of what colors should go together, look just right when mixed together in the patches between the road and the fence or stretching out in an uncut field of weeds.

The Flint Hills can take a person’s breath away.  They extend as far as the eye can see.  Today there was enough moisture in the air that the mist differentiated clearly layer after layer after layer of hills as they rolled off into the horizon.  The closer hills on the fringe of the Flint Hills were separated from one another by ribbons of trees, wherever water settled after rains or there was a creek flowing (maybe trickling — this is Kansas) between and around them.

The moisture in the air at the moment also provided wonderful cloud formations to see.  Our trip began in mid-afternoon and extended into the very early evening.  The sun began to provide shadows that had an interesting effect on the Sunflowers.  Not only do the sunflowers tend to face the sun and follow it during the day, when they were out of the direct sunlight, the color seemed to change from the bright yellow to a deep rich golden buttery color.

There were few birds to be seen, a hawk lifting up and passing just in front of the car, a few Scissortail Flycatchers, the ubiquitous doves and starlings, and a cluster of Turkey Vultures circling in one area.  By the way, I discovered that a group of Turkey Vultures when perched together is called a “wake” of Vultures. That may come from their sadly hanging heads when they perch.  Then there is a Parliament of Owls — but I digress. I saw no owls.

While Mary Ann doesn’t enjoy the rides in the country as much as I do, she did read some in a book she has on the trip to Braum’s.  She seems to be able to read with the outside light in the car far better than she can with the lights in the house.  She put the book away for the trip back and seemed to enjoy the sights.  All in all, it was a good day.

Just an update on the smoke alarm excitement last Sunday morning:  The security system Tech came today.  He concluded that at some point one of the techs had entered a code incorrectly, resulting in no signal from the smoke alarm reaching the dispatcher’s console.  He also suspected that dust in the sensor had made it hypersensitive, resulting it going off with less smoke than should have activated it.  By the way, he was interested in seeing the manual that came with our system around twenty years ago.  He had never actually seen that original book.  He assured me that the book was still accurate and that our system was fully functional even though old.  He did not have with him or try to sell me an extended contract — for which I was grateful. There was no charge for his services.  Now there is a reversal of the good news/bad news of Sunday morning.  The good news Sunday was that there were no fire trucks roaring into the neighborhood as the horn went off.  The bad news was that no fire trucks came when the sensor went off — what if it had actually been a fire?  Now comes the reversal.  The new good news, the fire trucks will come if there is a fire, the bac new, they will come if there is no fire and I don’t get the alarm turned off soon enough.

Well, unfortunately, the evidence on the monitor seems to be pointing to another restless night.  We will see. I keep forgetting to tell the bath aid, who comes twice a week and changes the bedding on Wednesdays, to use only the white or checked sheets and not the print with the flowers.  Mary Ann always has problems seeing the images on the print sheets as something moving or spots or threads needing to be removed.

For any who are concerned that the time stamp on these posts seems to indicate that they are written in the wee hours of the morning, the time stamp is Greenwich Mean Time, five hours ahead of Central Daylight Time.  It is now a little after Midnight, not 5am.

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