Without hesitation my first memory of living in Hutchinson was the winter we moved here in 1996. I spent our first snow storm unpacking, the second storm was pure wind chill and a touch of snow that set me to peeling baby blue wallpaper from the dining room. The third snowstorm I just stood at the five paned front window starring out into snow that never touched the ground. It went straight south for hours until I discovered the term snow drift! I called my family in Oklahoma numerous times that winter to give updated weather reports from Kansas (not unlike today and other days this winter). Without a job to pull me out of the house I was beginning to think of Michener's book Centennial and the isolation of the dust bowl.
At last in mid February of '96 the sun rose warmly one day. I called the Highlands Golf Course, where we had joined but had not visited, to see if any women played golf there and whom I might meet. The pro said he'd call a lady golfer to get in touch with me. Within hours a delightful exuberant lady name Trish Becher called me and invited me to play the next day if the forecast was true that it would be in the 60's. On that warm winter day I arrived at the Highlands with a small bag of clubs, no handicap, and several layers of clothes to play golf with new people in my life. For three or four days in that week we played golf in February. I was thinking Kansas wasn't so bad after all.
My first and most lasting memory of the Highlands Golf Course was playing hole six, a severe dog leg right, over water if you weren't careful. But on the first two days I was inaugurated the water was frozen, and so those little colorful golf balls (mine being pink, of course) just bounced out on the ice and sat there. Oh, how tempting to walk out on the frozen pond to collect golf balls. I even ventured down the bank one time in a vain attempt to reach a ball, only to figure out it was frozen into the water and probably every foolish golfer who had walked by that day had made the climb downward to retrieve one lonely ball.
The last two days we played there in February the water was thawed except for one small frozen island in the middle of the pond. It had only a few balls sitting on it, but it would have been a great camera shot with the correct lens, fresh pond water lapping at the edges attempting to wash the balls away. In the background a brown bank and trees awaiting spring. Little did I realize that March would soon blow for thirty-one long days and it would be April before I played golf again.
|I can see for miles across the prairie.|
The few days of golf that February gave me hope that Kansas would be a good place to live for a few years, thinking always that we would move on to somewhere else. Here we are fifteen years later. The wallpaper has all been peeled, we repainted every room twice, the kitchen is new. Gone is the robin egg blue toilet, sink, and tub along with the rose colored toilet and sink from the two bathrooms. Hard wood floors gleam where old Berber carpet had lain. Our new insulated windows keep out the bitter cold allowing me to now sit and watch the little birds fluttered in the snowy wind, and as we learned a few springs ago, the windows are so well insulated that we have to bend an ear to even hear the tornado sirens.
In Kansas it's important to hear sirens and keep out the cold. The weather keeps us on our toes, always alert to changes, always looking ahead to the future forecast. Next week, they say, the highs will be in the 60's. Golf weather for some of us. But in the meantime, I'd like to think I've learned how to enjoy each and every day. And as for Kansas, it passes the test. We've enjoyed these fifteen years and oh, so many friends who have come and gone through our lives and those who grace us with their friendship, laughter, and stories. With any luck at all this frigid winter weather will break long enough to find me out on a warm golf course for a day or two with friends. Out of 150 years Kansas, we've enjoyed a slight 15. Happy Birthday Kansas.