After traveling almost constantly for the last two weeks, it’s really lovely to be home. More than family and the simplicity of the real Midwest, the best part about being home is the wide open spaces of the Central Plains.
Las Vegas was quite an adventure. The people watching opportunities were epic, and it’s certainly a great place to go if you like to party. But that sort of thing gets old pretty fast. Then, what you’re left with is a sprawling metropolis of LED and neon and general recklessness, 603,000 people strong. Not my idea of a great place to live.
Chicago was better. It’s more reserved, more realistic, technically a Midwestern city (or at least what the outside world calls a Midwestern city). But it still has a population of 2.7 million! Chicago is the third largest city in the United States. It has 11,864 people per square mile. People, people everywhere! Gah!
So flying back into the good old Mid-Continent airport on the west side of Wichita was like a breath of fresh air. Ah, Wichita! City of opposites and paradoxes, with our agricultural history and our artistic streak. Wichita’s population is 386,000+ with 2,300 people per square mile. It’s a pretty nice place to live. You can be in the heart of downtown Wichita and drive 15 minutes in any direction and get to wheat fields and big, blue sky.
But for me, even Wichita is too close and confining.
No, give me the country. With wide rolling hills, scattered trees, ramshackle outbuildings, and a sky as big as your imagination. Wichita is the biggest city in Kansas (no, the big part of Kansas City is in Missouri, and the capital Topeka isn’t big at all). Kansas as a whole has a population of 2.9 million (remember the population of Chicago? 2.7 million? Yeah, almost the same number of people live in Chicago as do in the state of Kansas). And once you put the whole state into perspective, the population density is more like 35 people per square mile, but mainly that’s because Kansas is such a large state. Not the largest state, of course, but we’re fairly extensive. Number 15, says Wikipedia.
What I know is that 35 people per square mile is too many. See where I live, Safe Haven Farm, we have three people per square mile. And that’s up from last year when there was one person on this square mile.
Life is so simple here. So peaceful. You’re independent and free. Sure, there’s plenty of opportunity to get to know people. Trust me, the people in Wichita have enough quirks and idiosyncrasies to give the folks in Las Vegas a run for their money. But life isn’t the constant mad rush of a major city. You can have that if you want it, but out here, time slows down. You get to do the things you’re passionate about. You get to focus on the things that matter.
And on this snowy Saturday morning, while I’m freezing in my upstairs office writing this post, I can look out my window and see cows grazing on the green wheat planted in the south pasture. I can see for miles and miles and miles. If I look out the bedroom windows at the north of the house, I can see Hutchinson. That’s 20 miles away.
All the stress and worry and panic and general madness can stay in the big cities. They aren’t welcome here.
Wide open spaces, friends. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.