Summer has returned to Kansas. Temperatures in the 80's make this a great time to be outdoors. We traveled to Lovewell Lake on Sunday for a picnic and the kids went swimming. Lovewell Lake is about one hour east of here and has a particularly scenic state park.
Fall foliage is especially beautiful this year. We have only had a very light frost so far. Last week we went to Harlan Lake which is less than an hour north of here. The closest lake is Kirwin Lake which is only 15 minutes away. All the lakes that have been used for irrigation this year are so low that they lost a lot of their appeal. At Harlan Lake the marina is now a whole mile from the edge of the lake. Unless something dramatic happens this winter (I'm hoping for enough snow to be snowed in - a little survival training before we leave), there will be no irrigation water next year. In anticipation of that, most fields have been planted to wheat this fall because wheat can grow on just a little moisture in the spring. The sprouting wheat fields make for these wonderful green carpets this time of the year that contrast so nicely with the yellow cottonwoods and the brown milo grain.
My nephew Lars is back from his trip to Germany where he got his student visa in order and he is now an official exchange student of Kensington High School. I had fun driving him to Denver and then stayed for shopping in Boulder (which reminded me a lot of Cambridge) and for Yoga and hiking in Estes Park with spectacular weather. Everywhere were elk that seemed so used to people, they appeared almost tame. All outdoor doors also had reminders to keep them shut at night so that bears would not come in. I did not get to see a bear, but an elk bull with very large antlers startled me one night when he was right outside my building door.
Driving back from Estes Park (7 hours), it was amazing to observe, how crowded the Rockies and the foothills have become. It took more than 30 minutes on Highway 34 to get through Loveland, Colorado, which used to be a small town. One new development complex followed the next. Then as you leave the foothills and get out of quick driving range to the Rockies, you are all of sudden back to an almost empty prairie where you have to make sure you fill up with gas in time and the food selection gets very limited. Whereas driving 75 in Denver in thick traffic is probably too fast, the speed limit of 65 seems like crawling on these endless prairie roads. No place to stop for strong coffee either. As good and expensive as the coffee was in Boulder, on the high prairie muddled dishwater is sold as coffee. For a coffee addict like myself, it does not even have enough caffeine in it to keep me half way alert. Chocolate ice cream and Coke at the occasional Dairy Queen kept me from falling asleep.
Christina and Cecile are becoming very used to this part of the country. They insist on going to the local football games and plan to be cheerleaders when they are teenagers. When I hear that, I know we have to move because it does not agree with my vision for my daughters as they grow up. Even David admits that the very puritan convictions in the Midwest and the intense stares at the shortest of skirts at football games make for a strange juxtaposition. For me, going to football games is rather painful since I cannot get interested in the game. However, I have to admit that a game functions as a communication center. Now that we lost our grocery store, it is about the only place to meet all the locals other than the coffee shop at the gas station where for reasons mentioned above I don't drink the coffee.
Today I decided to splurge and rewarded myself with a new hairstyle that involved getting a perm and a manicure. Although I spent almost all morning in the beauty salon, the total bill was $41. And they did a wonderful job, which on Newbury Street would have cost me at least 3 times the amount that I paid. Aaah - the little pleasures of country life.
This week is Christina's 8th birthday. This year we are going to celebrate her birthday with a hayride, a treasure hunt, and an evening meal around a camp fire. All easy things to arrange here on a dime, but something she will be able to remember fondly when we'll be back in Boston. The following week will be David's mother's 60th birthday. After having made it through the chemotherapy , she is now feeling much stronger and her hair is growing back. We therefore have plenty of reason to celebrate her birthday this year.
And then there is Halloween. What a perfect place this is to do a haunted house tour. There are so many abandoned houses and barns in which owls and raccoons have made their home, it is easy to get scared visiting any of them. Sometimes people use old bed sheets to decorate them with a few ghosts, but spiders and other creepy, crawly bugs are already there. No Halloween amusement park needed here.
Our very own pumpkin patch yielded over 20 pumpkins which we used to decorate around the house. We also had a lot of acorn squash, but we plan to eat most of them during the winter.
Cecile really likes to the piano now. She plays "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" very nicely. Unfortunately, our big white rooster has started to attack her whenever she goes outside by herself and she is terrified to play outside. We are somewhat reluctant to get rid of the rooster, since he is a good protector for the hens against a hawk pair that likes to circle our yard and attacks the hens. However, we still have a brown rooster who might have to take over and who will hopefully not start to challenge Cecile. We also have another gray tabby cat. We felt we needed another female cat since our litter of cats this spring yielded four tomcats and only one female cat. This of course means that there will be even more kittens next spring. This is ok as long as they stay outside, however, this new addition tries to come in the house every time you open the door.