Choosing to Love Where You Live


My family and I have always lived in places where nature has presented itself to us like a gift on our doorstep. The salty breeze through our windows in California called us to the shore. The changing colors of the Wasatch Mountains beckoned us to the rivers and aspen groves. The rushing waters and lush beauty of the Pacific Northwest called us to find waterfalls and bathe in the forest just by walking out our door.

And then last year we moved to Kansas.

Hahaha! Are you laughing? Because what do you picture when you think of Kansas? Flat, flat, flat prairie land and tornadoes? Yeah, me too.

We moved from Seattle to Kansas City last June and the second we stepped out of the airpot, we were blasted with the hot, humid summer breath of the Midwest. It was so desperately hot, we had to go indoors during the middle of the day and the only sound pulsing through the breezeless air were the screaming cicadas. What have we done? I thought. Where is my summertime?

Fast forward to a year later and I love summer in Kansas. I really do! I just needed to shift my expectations. When we first moved here, I made the mistake of looking for ocean and mountains and rivers where they didn’t exist–or at least not in the way I was used to. I was trying to look for the west coast in the center of the country. And failing miserably.

It finally dawned on me to look for Kansas in Kansas. I eased off what I thought I should see and finally looked for what I could see. 

I found a lake alive with kayaks and paddle boards and fishing boats. I saw evening bonfires and hopping outdoor community pools. There were countless parks devoted to nature play and native plants with areas off the path as well, inviting us to imagine fairylands and set out on secret expeditions. Paved trails winding through town and down past a creek and through the trees and back into town. 

And then I looked even closer and started to see a world of birds, insects, and critters I had only ever seen in books. We discovered fireflies sparkling on our front lawn and froze as a giant snake wiggled across our path. We found trees and hills and country roads.

Kansas grows delicious veggies and the friendliest farmers I’ve ever met. Kansas grows sunflower fields a mile long and a mile wide. Did you know that Kansas is officially the Sunflower State? 

Kansas may not be ever green, have crystal clear lakes or any mountain ranges to speak of, but like anywhere else, natural beauty awaits to be inhaled, explored, and sketched if we will only look! Nature is all around us no matter where we live.


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