Written by Candace Lease
Well, it has been a week since we left Kansas behind us, the ashes and sand have been cleaned from under my nails, and the ash and soot that covered my bib overalls is washed away. My mind has been in constant reflection mode over the last week though, and I could go on and on forever about the things seen, stories heard, people met, and actions completed through our time to Kansas. I have decided to instead go about this ‘Late Show’ style, and compile the Top 10 takeaways from an extra-long weekend in the Panhandle.
10) You learn a lot when you’re in a van for 30 hours with the same folks – there were so many incredible people who made the decision to give their time and resources to the people of the Panhandle, and it was great to get to know people from across the state who chose to be involved in the effort. I think I was fortunate to be trapped in a white van with some of the best of our fine state, and the stories swapped and stupid moments on the journey forced us into friendship, for which I am lucky.
9) It doesn’t matter your age or occupation, there are people who go the extra mile for neighbors near and far – the oldest members of the trek out west with supplies were retired men, the youngest a young man in the fifth grade. Those are just examples within our group that had made the journey from Ohio; from Clark County, it was easy to see that extra mile mentality in people such as the volunteer fire departments saving homes even as their own houses went up in flames, or seeing the disc marks circling places like the community’s school, keeping people safe. There are some people who are hard-wired to make a difference when they get the chance, and the world is a better place for it.
8) Sometimes you’ve just got to dig a big hole, fill it with your garbage, and then burn it up, bury it, get rid of it all – this was standard procedure on one of the ranches we spent some time on. Am I trying too hard to make this an analogy for life? Probably. Oh well.
7) If a beer tastes good after a long day of work, it tastes even better after a long weekend of working to help others get back on their feet – ‘nuff said, thanks for the cold one, Derek/Darrell.
6) Tough times don’t last, but tough people do – in agriculture, we are all at the mercy of factors out of our control, from commodity markets to Mother Nature. You learn to be steadfast in your passion for your work, but formidable in your methods to success.
5) The American farmer and rancher is a resilient species – the fires were still fresh wounds to the terrain, but everyone we talked to was beyond dwelling on the destruction, and focused on the rebuilding of their land.
4) Nothing gives you goosebumps quite like truckload after truckload of hay covered in American flags, signs, and other signs of love headed west on I-70 – cool convoy if I do say so myself.
3) Clark county Kansas may be low in quantity about human beings, but they are darn high in quality – every person we talked to, worked for, roomed with, or encountered in Ashland and Minneola treated us with the kind of kindness and appreciation that made me even more honored to be able to help these people of God.
2) We are all blessed to be from communities that look out for one another, I have all the proof I’ll ever need in that fact thanks to strangers who quickly became friends in Clark County, Kansas.
1) “I don’t care what Trump’s slogan is, America is pretty great already, look at all this.” -a paraphrased quote from one of the ‘Two old guys in a truck driving to Kansas’ as we awaited the group of trailers to have dinner on our way out – and a statement I thought about as we helped others and were helped by the Clark County community. I think we should all be proud to be Americans.